Crop Protection

Oil Dispersion Formulations: A Game-Changer for Sustainable Agriculture

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Guest Author: Kawar Lal Dabodhia, Head – Formulation R&D, GSP Crop Science Pvt Ltd

31 July 2023, New Delhi: Agriculture serves as the backbone of India’s economy, employing approximately 44% of the workforce. However, farmers in the country encounter numerous challenges, including pests and diseases that destroy up to 40% of crops. Outbreaks of pests and diseases, like the locust swarms of 2020 and the recent taro caterpillar in India, can jeopardize food security and human health, compounding the challenge of feeding a fast-growing population. Intensive agricultural practices and imbalanced use of fertilizers and crop protection chemicals have severely impacted soil health worldwide. 

Agrochemicals, comprising fertilizers, pesticides, adjuvants, and plant regulators, play a crucial role in reducing crop loss, protecting against disease-causing pathogens, increasing crop yield, and maintaining yield quality. However, the extensive use of pesticides and fertilizers has garnered global criticism due to escalating health and environmental concerns, necessitating the development of new technologies to minimize pesticide usage in the field. 

In this context, innovative agrochemical formulation types play an essential role in addressing these issues, promoting crop growth with improved performance and noticeable results. New formulation technologies in agrochemical products enable farmers to cultivate more crops on less land, reducing production costs and ultimately offering cheaper products to consumers. 

Various innovative agrochemical formulation technologies, such as Capsule Suspension, Suspo-emulsion, Zeon Concentrate, Flowable slurry for Seed treatment, and Oil Dispersion, can effectively tackle these challenges and support farmers in improving their livelihoods. Among these, Oil Dispersion (OD) formulation stands out as a new-generation trend for water-sensitive molecules, incorporating in-built adjuvant technology that eliminates the need for additional tank-mix components, thus enhancing the product’s performance. 

Why is Oil Dispersion formulation better ?

Oil Dispersion significantly improves spray performance on crops compared to other local formulations like Suspension Concentrate, Water Dispersible Granules, and Emulsifiable Concentrate, particularly in terms of retaining and covering pesticide droplets on crops and insects for an extended period. This formulation utilizes vegetable oils instead of water, acting as adjuvants to enhance pesticide performance. The oil adheres better to the cuticle of leaves, creating a barrier that prevents the transport of pesticides in pests. 

The use of Oil Dispersion formulations reduces pesticide application, resulting in less exposure to farmers and the environment. As it requires fewer adjuvants, less labor is needed, and it also enhances the pesticide’s performance by ensuring proper coverage and penetration into the plant, ultimately saving farmers on pesticide expenses per acre. Additionally, the reduced water requirement for spraying, due to the use of vegetable oil, proves advantageous in water-scarce areas, and it also helps control spray droplet areas and reduce drift, minimizing the impact on adjacent fields with different crops. Furthermore, the compact packing size makes transportation to the field convenient, and the oil-based nature of the formulation ensures safety for cattle and non-target organisms, without creating phytotoxicity issues on crops like other solvent-based formulations. 

Oil Dispersion has also been found to be highly rain-fast, preventing wastage of sprayed pesticides in case of sudden rain, and assuring farmers that their investment will not go to waste. 

Globally, Oil Dispersion formulations have gained popularity over the last two decades, comprising approximately 5% of the active market, and are recognized by farmers as novel formulations. Most registered Oil Dispersion formulations are based on Herbicide chemistry, followed by Fungicides and Insecticides like Nicosulfuron, Penoxsulam, Pyroxsulam, Fluroxypyr, Tribenuron methyl, metsulfuron methyl, Pyrazosulfuron Ethyl, Imidacloprid, Dinotefuran, Imidacloprid, Pymetrozine, Chlorothalonil, Mancozeb, etc. 

In India, while initially, only one Oil Dispersion (Beta-cyfluthrin + Imidacloprid) from Bayer was registered, currently, 12 Oil Dispersion formulations have been registered with CIB, featuring the latest chemistry like Cyantraniliprole, Spirotetramat, Oxathiapipron, Cyhalofop-butyl, and Penoxsulam. The trend has shifted towards combinations in Oil Dispersion, gaining more popularity than single pesticide formulations, particularly those based on Herbicide chemistry with very low active loading, such as Penoxsulam + Cyhalofop-butyl Oil Dispersion. This rising trend indicates that more Oil Dispersion formulations will be registered with CIB in the future, benefiting farmers in terms of cost and performance on different crops. 

Looking ahead, India is expected to witness more biological/microbial biopesticides based on Oil Dispersion formulations, occupying a significant market share and requiring low doses per hectare. Liquid oil dispersion forms are often preferred for fungal biopesticide formulations, typically based on white mineral oils or plant oils like soybean and rapeseed. Combining entomopathogenic fungi with oils has shown extra biological efficacy for biological via Oil Dispersion formulations, such as emulsified rapeseed oil, which has proven to interact synergistically with B. bassiana blastophores, resulting in increased target pest mortality. 

Oil Dispersion formulations offer farmers the opportunity to save money and achieve higher crop protection and yields with reduced pesticide usage during spray compared to other conventional formulations. As the trend toward Oil Dispersion continues to grow, it presents a promising future for sustainable agriculture in India and worldwide. 

Also Read: Every farm in Madhya Pradesh will get irrigation water: CM Chouhan

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