The term agrochemical or agrichemical is used as a generic term for the chemical products or pesticides used in agriculture. These include herbicides, fungicides and insecticides but also synthetic fertilizers, hormones and soil conditioning agents. Agrochemicals play an important role in modern industrialized and intensive farming methods, making possible the growth of foods on previously uncultivatable land and maximizing the yield of a given soil.
Agrochemicals have come a long way since the creation of synthetic fertilizers and the need to better understand and optimize both the agrochemical production process and the formulation make up of agrochemicals is becoming more apparent.
Malvern Instruments can help with the analysis and optimization of your agrochemical products to assist the development of new agrochemicals and for quality control and production optimization.
Malvern Instruments offers a range of analytical tools for the characterization of agrochemical products.
For more information on Malvern’s solutions for soil science here.
Fertilizers can be applied to crops as either solids or liquids, with granulated or powdered solids being the most common form. The physical properties of the powder, including its particle size distribution and particle shape are determined by its chemical composition and processing and are important for optimizing spreading properties and minimizing segregation, especially in bulk blends. Particle size can also affect dilution behaviour and activity rate of the fertilizer.
For agrochemicals which are in the form of colloidal suspensions, rheology and viscosity are important parameters since they influence the flow characteristics, atomization behavior and stability of an agrochemical formulation. Zeta potential is also a critical metric for optimizing the stability of colloidal dispersions.
Pesticides are most commonly applied using spray devices and along with soil particle size, the droplet size of a spray determines the run-off speed of the liquid from the soil as well as properties such as spray drift and evaporation.
Polymers in Agrochemicals
The use of polymers in agriculture is becoming more widespread with superabsorbent hydrogels being used to optimize soil properties and functional polymers used to increase the efficiency and stability of pesticides and herbicides. Polymers are also used to control the atomization behavior of agrochemical sprays.
Physical and chemical analysis of agrochemicals
Malvern Instrument’s range of analytical products and expertise can assist the agrochemical sector by helping to:
- Optimize spray formulations and spray apparatus to ensure optimum droplet size for a given application or environment
- Control particle size and shape of powder formulations to ensure optimum and consistent flow, spreading and packing characteristics
- Improve dissolution behaviour and activity rate of fertilizers and pesticides
- Classify soil types in terms of their composition and physical characteristics
- Characterize and synthesize functional polymers for use in agrochemical formulations
- Control the flow properties of agrochemical dispersions and optimize their stability