CEU Series: Choose Wisely For Pesticide Formulation Effectiveness

When a pesticide chemical is being manufactured, rarely can it be used in its raw or unformulated state, so the manufacturer must further modify the product by combining it with other materials such as solvents, wetting agents, stickers, powders, or granules. This combination of the product s active and inert ingredients is known as a formulation. Formulations allow for easier transportation and handling by your application equipment, and as an applicator, it’s your responsibility to choose the formulation wisely so that it will best meet your control requirements, be effective against the pest, and preserve the environment around you.

Interpreting an ingredient statement: Often the product name tells you something about the formulation. Below is an ingredient statement for the herbicide Buctril 4EC. However before looking at this statement, there are few important terms to I would like you to understand

Active Ingredient (AI): The active ingredient (a.i.) in a pesticide formulation is the actual chemical that controls the pest. When looking for the active ingredient look no further than the front label in the ingredient statement section just above the EPA registration number. It is a requirement by the EPA that the active ingredients are clearly stated on the label. Some products may contain one active ingredient while others may include several; however it’s important to understand that all active ingredients must be listed separately in the active ingredient statement.

Inert Ingredient: Inert ingredients are materials added during the formulation process to help stabilize the product. These ingredients are also added to help the product mix better with water, aid in transportation and handling while also assisting in the effectiveness and penetration of the product. The exact manufactures inert ingredients won’t be found on the label as these ingredients are trade secrets. What you will find in place of the exact inerts is “other ingredients” or” “inert ingredients “with a general explanation. Some of the different types of inerts may include water, emulsifiers, dye, surfactants, spreaders, stickers and wetting agents.

Phytotoxicity: Damage to a plant or plants resulting in over exposure to a pesticide.

Adjuvant: Adjuvants are substances that are used to aid in performance and at times are added directly into the product. Manufactures may also add adjuvants with the hope of creating a competitive edge. Adjuvants can also be added separately, if this is the case then they’re easily mixed into your tank along with the product just before treatment. Some of the common adjuvants include surfactants, emulsifying agents, wetting agents or spreaders, stickers, dyes and drift-control agents.

Now let’s take a look at the Buctril 4EC statement

Graphic for CEU Series #60
As you can see it contains the product name, the amount of active ingredient in pounds per gallon, and the type of formulation. In this instance the product name is Buctril, the amount of (a.i.) in pounds per gallon is 4, and the liquid formulation is EC meaning Emulsifiable Concentrate. Below that information you will find the actual active ingredient which in this case there are two, Octanoic acid ester of bromoxynil, and Heptanoic acid ester of bromoxynil, which make up 53% of the product. The inert ingredient is xylene range/petroleum distillates and as you can see the inert makes up 45%.

Below the inert ingredients section you will see that Buctril contains 4 pounds of active ingredient per gallon so if a container of this product amounted to two and a half gallons product, there would be 10 pounds of actual (a.i.) in the formulation.

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