FMC: Customize solutions to meet customers’ specific needs
Jul. 1, 2019
They also shared their views on future development trends of novel formulation and application technologies, challenges that affect formulation innovation and development, strategies of formulation development, digitalization technologies to enhance efficacy for formulation development/application/delivery, as well as innovation formulation and application technologies launched by FMC.
Novel formulation trends that are emerging include both new active ingredients and combined active ingredients that are driven by the need to manage pest resistance. We expect that there will be an increased number of formulations that will combine two or more active ingredients though this can pose challenges related to physical and chemical stability. There is also increased focus on adjuvant benefits to formulations though outside the United States growers tend to prefer having adjuvants built into formulations and not added to the tank mix. The use of biologicals is another fast-growing trend. With growth rates expected to be faster than synthetic chemistries and faster registration timelines, many companies are focused on looking at ways that biological technologies and associated formulations can differentiate their products.
In terms of application technologies, there are emerging technologies in precision agriculture. Many of these emerging technologies require new active ingredients with lower dose rates in g/ha but they will need to perform well to ensure they reach their target. Some of these application technologies include drones or types of vehicles that carry concentrated products in smaller containers and injecting them at the point of use, such as FMC’s 3RIVE 3D® unit that is currently used in the United States and Canada. Precision agriculture is a nascent industry and a lot of investment and focus is happening in this space.
Regulatory challenges vary from country to country and can require significant customization and time investment for reviews and registrations. Some examples include regulatory-driven replacement of inert ingredients and limiting use of active ingredients. A recent example is the ECHA proposal to limit the use of microplastics which will impact seed treatment and microencapsulated formulations.
Q2. Could you share some specific cases of how you company develops agrochemical formulations suited to different global regions?
FMC completes country-specific regulatory studies that allow customized, country- and market-specific products for our growers. Our company is unique in that we partner very closely with customers to develop solutions that meet their specific needs. To do this, we have invested in a global R&D network with locations around the world that allows us to leverage expertise from scientists to address challenges that might be global in reach or specific to a region or country. Weeds, crops and farming practices vary, and we are prepared to meet diverse grower needs.
We use local ingredient suppliers and test solutions using conditions that are relevant for the agricultural practice of the region and crop, on top of the Global FAO Guidelines. Some variables include available application technology, storage conditions, tank mix partners, crops and formulation type. We consider the local pest/disease/weed pressures, tank mix partners, and local available application technologies and other variables when recommending solutions to growers.
A good example of a product being formulated for various regions is Bifenthrin. Our formulation in Brazil is an Emusifiable Concentrate (EC) formulation (primarily a foliar application), in the US it is a Suspension Concentrate (SC) that can be applied with a liquid fertilizer as a soil application. And most recently, we developed an expandable foam formulation that can be applied using our 3RIVE 3D® application system. This has been implemented in the US and has the potential to be used in other regions with some unique enhancements being considered.
Q3. What are the challenges in R&D for new formulations and possible solutions?
The biggest challenge for R&D when developing new formulations or active ingredients is that regulatory standards are not harmonized around the world. Additionally, the time required for registrations ranges between two and eight years – this can be a significant impediment to providing quick solutions to pest shifts, such as resistance or populations flairs. Developing solutions that meet the various regulatory requirements, while addressing region-specific grower needs is challenging. Another area that could present challenges is precision agriculture. Many solutions are being developed and most ag chem companies are investing in these technologies. Each of these present different opportunities for novel agricultural solutions and companies will need to move quickly to capitalize on the best winning technologies.
Q4. What technologies does your company adopt to speed up the formulation technology innovation?
At FMC, we partner with suppliers and other research organizations to evaluate new technologies. Our scientists have collaborated to develop lab and greenhouse protocols that have allowed us to scale down and assess potential formulation prototypes before committing to expensive and time-consuming field trials that are typically limited in number per year and season. Our scientists miniaturize sample prep and testing to reduce resources and maximize the number of samples that we can screen through our high-throughput system. This system allows us to evaluate 50000 discovery molecules every year. The formulations development team formulates hundreds of these discovery molecules, annually.
Finally, at FMC, we benefit from our agile organization design with regional centers of excellence. The workflow design has been optimized to enable multiple projects through all stages of formulation development. Experienced chemists and engineers work together on teams to provide expertise throughout the product development process.
Q5. Could you share some cases over the digitalization technologies that enhance efficacy for formulation development/application/delivery?
At FMC, we leverage spectral analyses techniques during scouting, monitoring and delivery in our formulation optimization process. Additionally, we use a variety of digital technologies to visualize droplet formation, deposition, penetration to crops via foliar applications and transportations in soils for product applied via chemigation systems. We are continually reviewing and exploring new digital techniques to gain even better insights about how our formulations interact with different targets, and ultimately optimize our formulations to realize their full biological potential.
Q6. What’s the core compentence to drive fomulation technology innovation in your company? What innovation formulation technologies have been launched by your company? What are the agriculture concerns solved by them?
FMC has an agile organization design with R&D regional centers of excellence and a broader network of formulation labs to optimize workflow and handle multiple projects at all stages of formulation development. The company benefits from our geographic reach by allowing us to respond quickly to regional market demands and leverage those learnings across our global organization. Additionally, FMC has a culture of working very closely with our customers and employs a high degree of entrepreneurial spirit.
Our revolutionary delivery systems, PrecisionPac® and the 3RIVE 3D®, are enabled through the creation of specifically designed solid and liquid formulations. In North America, Capture® 3RIVE 3D® and Ethos® 3RIVE 3D® are two product offerings that were specifically formulated for use in the Agrow Award winning 3RIVE 3D® application system. These products deliver crop protection for seeding defense and yield enhancement. This new technology integrates formulation technology, application technology, and active ingredients to efficiently cover more ground in less time with fewer refills - saving water, fuel, labor, and time.
Our PrecisionPac® application innovation allows retail agronomists the opportunity to create custom sulfonyl urea herbicide blends specific to each grower and their crop and field. Each blend is as unique as the agronomic needs of the acre on which it will be applied. Customized mixtures are a key tool to weed resistance management.
Learn more dynamics over the Formulation & Application Technology, pls Download '2019 Formulation & Adjuvant Technology ' magazine.
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