Selecting a Formulation Type and Package Size for your Biopesticides
Posted 16th July 2018 by Jane Williams
In the final instalment in our series of articles focusing on biopesticide product development, we will be discussing the importance of selecting a formulation type and package size, preferred packaging options, crop specific economics, tank mixability, and tank mixes.
Granule vs Liquid:
Liquid is often preferred for tank-mixing. Growers in the Midwest tend to use liquid exclusively, especially for corn and soya bean, because of previous experience with some products that didn’t mix well and blocked tanks and spray nozzles. The Californian specialty crop market has more acceptance of granular products because the smaller scales make caking less of an issue.
It is vital to know your target market and ensure you meet their expectations. If you are planning on manufacturing a dry product, can you make a granule that mixed well? If you are creating a liquid product, do you have issues with separation or sediment during long storage? This isn’t an issue for small volumes, but is a major problem for large users. Granule is preferred for logistics (weight, bulk and susceptibility to temperature charges etc). Balancing all these needs is difficult but must be factored into the product design process.
- Most flexible logistics option for large volume products
- 2 x 2.5 gal jugs (2 x 10L) – Most common
- 4 x 1 gal jugs – Not preferred by large growers
Crop Specific Economics
Wheat, on average, only has 1 pesticide treatment before sowing and one after. Corn has 2-3 treatments through the year – 1 before it goes into the ground and 2 more after. Cotton is treated 10 times a year for insecticide. Some specialty crops can be treated every 4-7 days.
This means that if you have a product that requires 3 applications a year to be efficacious and your target crop is wheat, that doesn’t fit with the usage pattern of the grower. The grower only drives across that field 1-2 times per year. The chances of encouraging enough growers to change their behaviour are very slim and so your product will be deemed as ineffective.
It is important to remember throughout the product development journey that your product is unlikely to ever go into the tank by itself. Many products that fail at market don’t fail due to bad science, but rather because the end user wouldn’t/couldn’t use it as originally intended but still blamed the product, not the usage.
- Ground Sprayer: $5-$8 per acre + crop damage and compaction
- Aerial Sprayer: $7-$10 per acre
Because of the cost of each application, multiple products are mixed and sprayed at once. Many corn and soybean applications include 7-10 products per tank (herbicide, insecticide, fungicide, micronutrient, adjuvants). Will your product tank-mix with all these? If not, does it offer enough value to the grower to make another separate application? If your product cannot guarantee a benefit to the grower of more than $10 per acre, there is no business case to perform the extra spray for your product.Similarly, as above, if you require the grower to perform more treatments than standard procedure, can you guarantee a benefit of an additional $10 per acre per spray?
Summary of considerations
To conclude, most manufacturers of agricultural products rely on distributors to access retailers and get to the end user. For biological products, the correct shipping, storage, and user education are vital to a product’s success. If your live product has been killed before it gets to the grower, they will consider your product ineffective rather than blame the distributor. Therefore, the success of the product, largely, lies in the hands of the manufacturer and the following must be considered: the type of crop it’s being developed for, the formulation type, shelf life, package type, and your sales team.
To find out more about the biopesticides market, join us at the Partnerships in Biocontrol, Biostimulants & Microbiome Congress: USA. Download the agenda here.
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