Crop care

Surfactants are used to prepare crop care formulations that play a major role in increasing agricultural output to feed growing populations. Surfactants make the application of these treatments more efficient and more effective, reducing the amount of active ingredient that needs to be used to protect crops from infestation, disease and malnutrition.


Typical crop care applications

  • Herbicides
  • Fungicides
  • Insecticides
  • Fertilisers

Crop care treatments are typically solvent-, water- or oil-based systems sprayed directly on to plants or on to pests that may damage the plant or impair its growth. The addition of a surfactant can significantly enhance the performance of these spray solutions in several ways:

  • mixing or emulsifying and dispersing oil-soluble and water-soluble molecules
  • coverage or spreading and wetting on leaf or pest surfaces
  • spray retention or sticking on leaf surfaces
  • absorption or penetrating properties

Surfactants facilitate and accentuate the emulsifying, dispersing, spreading, wetting, or other surface modifying properties of crop care liquids.

When applying these agents, the leaves must first be wetted since the active substances are often taken up through the leaves. Typically, liquid treatments will form beads on hydrophobic surfaces like waxy plant or weed leaves and funghi due to surface tension. The addition of surfactant breaks the surface tension, allowing the treatment to be more evenly dispersed and to reach its target.

Surfactants also prevent the spray solution from rolling off the leaf surface, enabling uniform coverage and penetration of the active substance through leaf through gaps and membranes.

In powdery substances such as fertilisers, surfactants improve flowability by prevent lumping, which promotes even coverage and reduces wastage.

The application of smart surfactant technology is key to continuous improvement in the performance, convenience, cost and sustainability of crop care formulations through enhanced targeting and reduced environmental impact of treatments.