″Our differentiated product portfolio is based on our proprietary formulation technologies, which serve as a platform for developing new, sustainable products. These include technologies that optimize product performance and delivery of the active ingredient to its target through our customized solutions,″ said Sugata Roy, ADAMA’s Head of Global Formulations and Delivery Technologies, in a recent interview with AgroPages.
He also shared his views on ADAMA’s value chain, the overview of formulation R&D, production, application situation, the application situation of automation control and artificial intelligence in formulation production, the innovation formulation technology and special features, product development strategies and more.
ADAMA’s Head of Global Formulations and Delivery Technologies
Could you talk about the value chain of ADAMA, global presence and core competitiveness?
ADAMA delivers innovative, market leading and sustainable crop protection solutions to help simplify and solve farmers’ challenges around the world. Leveraging our advanced formulation technology platforms allows ADAMA to optimize the efficacy and usability of our industry-leading portfolio of Active Ingredients (AIs).
In today’s market, a competitive edge comes from getting the most out of existing active ingredients through innovative mixtures and formulations. Our portfolio of more than 300 AIs is arguably the largest in the industry. These are our building blocks for new, innovative, and differentiated formulations to combat weeds, insects and disease in crops.
Our development process is based on insights we gather from farmers and our channel partners to ensure our products address the most pressing challenges faced in today's complex and ever-changing agronomic, regulatory, and consumer environments. We apply various unique and often proprietary ADAMA formulation technology platforms to address these pain points and in doing so, seek to transform the impact of the AIs, delivering a superior product. The objective of our R&D and product development is to improve plant protection while addressing product stability, environmental safety, occupational hazards, tank mix compatibility, etc. The result is more sustainable solutions for farmers and a more sustainable business for ADAMA’s partners.
ADAMA sells in 100 countries, with an active presence in 50 countries, 4 advanced R&D centers across 3 continents, and 22 production and supply sites around the world.
What are the strategies of product integration & development of ADAMA and corresponding initiatives? Introduce its differentiated product portfolio.
We pursue a strategy of product integration and development which comprises an end-to-end process from ideation through launch. Our largest active ingredient portfolio enables us to offer best in class solutions by meaningful integration of active ingredients for a need, coupled with innovation in formulation which leads to differentiation. This includes identifying product features that farmers need most, testing several combinations for each AI through systematic prototyping and then building on the mixtures that show promise and eliminating those that do not. We then take the leading solutions and run field trials to more deeply explore each formulation’s true capabilities and select the best candidate for wide scale production and registration.
Our differentiated product portfolio is based on our proprietary formulation technologies, which serve as a platform for developing new, sustainable products. These include technologies that optimize product performance and delivery of the active ingredient to its target through our customized solutions.
Could you introduce the overview of formulation R&D, production, and application situation of ADAMA and relevant facilities & capabilities? What are the challenges and countermeasures during the above process?
The biggest challenge for crop protection companies like ours is finding ways to feed the growing world population while remaining sustainable and minimizing the impact our products have on the environment and people. This motivates us to adapt our formulation, R&D, and manufacturing processes so that we can deliver products that improve yield and are better for farmers and the world. ADAMA’s main production sites are located in Israel, China and Brazil.
Our focused agenda for formulation development and scale up is based on the use of sustainable co-formulants together with energy efficient formulation manufacturing technologies and processes which have a reduced carbon footprint. All our developments pass through a rigorous multiple concept testing phase which covers various possible formulation types, solvents, adjuvants and integrations with different manufacturing technologies.
We manufacture many AIs from scratch, doing multiple experiments to test ways to enhance safety and reduce environmental impact. We have teams who focus on chemical synthesis, GLP (Good Laboratory Practice), and analytical chemistry, along with pilot facilities for synthesis.
We also have state of the art formulation laboratories in Israel, India, China and Brazil and we have dedicated formulation pilot facilities and an engineering team that focuses on process engineering. We have biological testing facilities and greenhouses in several places which is an integral part of our formulation development.
Our global field product development and research team is in day-to-day communication with the formulation team. We established this robust communication channel to facilitate sharing of feedback from the field regarding gap areas and feedback on performance of formulation prototypes at early development stages.
Registration is another challenge for our industry. The complex regulations around testing and documentation of crop protection products, which is different for each country, can be a significant barrier to bringing new and effective products to market. We have vast experience in registration, so we can overcome these barriers and our products can reach farmers more quickly.
Could you talk about the application situation of automation control and artificial intelligence in formulation production of ADAMA?
Most of our formulation manufacturing sites are equipped with automation control starting from precise charging of raw materials and several automatic in-process in-line checks and measures are implemented to ensure occupational safety and product quality. Product quality is an utmost priority for us and along with strict raw material quality control, several critical process control parameters are strictly continuously monitored during production to ensure the best quality.
Our efforts in artificial intelligence and machine learning are mainly focused on ensuring quality, and we do them in collaboration with several leading institutes / organizations. The artificial intelligence learns from vast sets of data for each formulation type, generated from earlier production runs, focusing on critical co-formulants and process control parameters, which can have a potentially major impact on product quality.
Could you highlight the innovation formulation technology and special features? And share some technologies to accelerate formulation innovation. Tell us some successful cases to develop formulations based on different application scenarios and market needs.
We are proud of the innovative formulation technologies that we’ve developed.
Asorbital® Technology optimizes penetration into cereal leaves for longer-lasting protection. It comprises a unique patent protected combination of co-formulants to improve the uptake of selected fungicides and enable excellent systemic mobility of the AI through the plant to the sites of action. It is the foundation for a number of products that are commercially available in Europe or in various registration phases. One example is our fungicide Soratel™, which improves disease control in OSR and wheat by 13-20% as compared to existing formulations of the same AI.
Sesgama™ Technology is based on a unique patent-protected polymeric surfactant developed in our R&D labs. It enables high-load suspensions that are typically difficult to stabilize, forming the basis for products that are easy to use, have a smaller environmental footprint, and reduce packaging and transportation costs. A number of Sesgama™ products will be released in the coming years.
TOV® Technology is a unique oil-based formulation technology platform for optimized delivery of AI mixtures with different mode of actions. Two very successful formulations are already available in the Brazilian market with TOV® technology and several other formulations are in the pipeline, which are expected to be available for farmers in next 1-3 years.
Rainfast Technology is a unique patent-protected delivery technology combined with formulation innovation to support enhanced rainfastness. This improves retention and demonstrates enhanced performance of contact fungicides. The technology was successfully implemented and tested in a number of products which are currently in the ADAMA registration and development pipeline.
In addition to these existing technologies, we are working on more future formulation platforms that have distinct advantages with regard to biological efficacy, physical performance and sustainability profile.
Could you share some changes of market requirements, regulation & policy and application technologies of ADAMA's target markets? What are the product development strategies in response to evolving changes?
We’re in a market that is always in flux, across regulations and policy, market requirements and expectations, and the application technologies themselves. To keep up with these changes, we make sure to always listen to farmers, channel partners and regulatory bodies worldwide, who tell us about their pain points and needs.
Trends that are impacting our R&D and product development are, for example, new legislation and market interest in more sustainable solutions. For more than a decade, ADAMA has been emphasizing formulation technologies over discovering new AIs, so early on we began hiring researchers with the right types of skills and investing in state-of-the-art technologies, labs, and equipment necessary to achieve this. Industry trends with regards to the reduction in AI discovery, bans of existing AIs and higher sustainability standards reveal the power of our formulation approach for providing more effective, cutting-edge products from existing AIs.
The next generation of practical innovation lies in wisely ″mixing″ existing AIs into new and unique formulations for better performance, while developing and innovating new technologies to deliver those formulations more accurately to their targets. This is precision agriculture, achieving greater effect with less product, which we see as the future of crop protection. As you can see from the technologies mentioned here, this is one of our strengths at ADAMA.
This article was published in AgroPages '2023 Formulation & Adjuvant Technology ' magazine published this May.
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