Monday, November 16, 2009

Nanotechnology coming soon in a package to you?

The agrichemical industry is driven for many reasons to develop organic pesticides posing less risk to humans and fewer adverse effects to the environment. These newer products are usually less persistent in the environment, effective at lower use rates and often targeted at specific pests.

This is a tall and expensive order. It may take the discoverer of a new molecule up to a decade to bring this new active ingredient (a.i.) to marketable products. Almost always this new pesticide is used in agriculture first. Then, depending upon the molecule’s action against specific turf & ornamental weeds or pests and its expected financial payback, it may find its way to our market.

OK, you already know this stuff, right?

What you may not realize is the importance of formulation science in the process. Developing formulations that allow a molecule to do the job it’s supposed to do in an environmentally friendly, efficient and economical way is as vital to the process as discovering the a.i. in the first place.

That’s why a recent presentation at the British Crop Production Council Congress by a gentleman by the name of Steve Rannard of IOTA NanoSolutions is so exciting.

As reported in the Farmers Weekly Interactive on Friday, Nov. 13, Rannard reported that his company has come up with a process to develop nano-dispersed formulations for organic pesticides possessing a low solubility in water. Nanotechnology is the study of the controlling of matter on an atomic and molecular scale, says Wikipedia.

Without getting too deeply into specifics (click here for the article on Farmers Weekly Interactive to learn more), the end result of the process is the formation of tiny nanocrystals of the a.i. that behave almost like a solution when mixed with water.

Why is this significant?

Nano-dispersed formulations reduce packaging waste and shipping costs, reduce the need for solvents and —this is huge — improve performance at greatly reduced use rates. At least that’s been the case in trials with “a world-leading” fungicide, Rannard claimed in the article in the Farmers Weekly Interactive.

Look for nanotechnology to make a big splash in the pesticide market within the next two or three years. — Ron Hall

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