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Pilarquim R&D Center: Continuing microcapsule technology upgrade, multiple innovation contribute to global agricultureqrcode

Dec. 25, 2021

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Dec. 25, 2021

The year 2021 marks Pilarquim’s 60th anniversary, and in these 60 years, Pilarquim has been developing its businesses in Southeast Asian and South American markets. 

In recent years, Pilarquim has expanded its overseas marketing through technical breakthroughs and applications in microcapsule formulation development, having promoted Chinese high-quality products to the world. In 2021, Pilarquim continued to develop microcapsule technology to update the pyrethroid microcapsule formulation, which once again demonstrated Pilarquim’s product craftsmanship and the image of the Chinese pesticide. 

Recently, AgroPages interviewed Director Liu Runfeng of the Pilarquim Research and Development Center. Through the interview, AgroPages gained an in-depth understanding of the operations of the Pilarquim Research and Development Center. In the interview, Liu Runfeng introduced Pilarquim’s innovative ideas in formulation and application and the innovation reserves covering suspension concentrate, seed treatment, and aerial application-oriented adjuvant. Meanwhile, Liu Runfeng provided opinions on the trend of future formulation development under global competition. 


Liu Runfeng, Director of the Pilarquim Research and Development Center

AgroPages: Please brief us on the Pilarquim Research and Development Center and your focus on research and development 

Liu Runfeng: In 2019, with the continued integration of Mindleader and Pilarquim, the first thing to do was to consolidate R&D resources, including equipment, personnel and technology. Based on Pilarquim’s existing R&D facilities, a new R&D center was built, where Mindleader’s former R&D facilities and personnel in Beijing were moved to Shanghai, having started official operations in 2020. 

The new R&D center is headquartered in Shanghai, covering an area of more than 1,000 square meters. A technical department was set up in Mindleader’s production base in Jiangsu Province. After more than two years of operation, the center has developed to cover formulation recipe research, novel formulation type research, pesticide bioassay, adjuvant application and intellectual property rights protection. 

AgroPages: What is the innovative thinking of formulation development at the Pilarquim Research and Development Center? What kind of formulation technology or product, in your opinion, will be the future trend?  

Liu Runfeng: The Pilarquim Research and Development Center adheres to its differentiation strategy. Concerning mixture development, we usually choose the latest off-patent compound for development of mixtures. Regarding the formulation type, we generally choose SC, OD, CS, ZC and DF which are safe and environment-friendly formulation types. In particular, our CS and DF formulations are leading the industry in research, manufacture and application. 

The Pilarquim Research and Development Center sticks to the customer-centric business philosophy. We believe that only those products that customers favor will have a future. From a customer standpoint, we make innovation and manufacture products of the best performance, which enable products to be safer and more convenient to use. We have always been making constant improvements to product performance and product quality.

With the prevailing sustainable development concept, the changes in land circulation, population aging and the shortage of rural labor force, it is noted that the management mechanism, application scenario and application method are quietly evolving. The future pesticide formulation is bound to develop towards efficiency, environment-friendly and easy-to-use properties. Novel pesticide formulation types are expected to have a rapid growth, such as slow-release microcapsules, pesticide-fertilizer granules, labor-saving formulation types including floating granules, jumbo granules and seed treatments, as well as formulations and adjuvants fit for mechanical spraying and aerial spraying. 

AgroPages: Could you elaborate on your leading microcapsule technology? What were the key points this technology solved? How could Pilarquim eliminate bottlenecks in technical development? What are the main areas of further technical advancement in microcapsule technology development? 

Liu Runfeng: Microcapsule formulation is an excellent representative of novel pesticide formulation types, using natural or synthetic polymer materials as capsule wall, which gets active substance (capsule core) coated via chemical, physical or physiochemical methods, forming a semi-permeable or encapsulant microcapsule. 

Microcapsule reduces volatility making volatile substances less volatile, and can reduce odor stimulation. For example, the odor of organophosphorus insecticides is much reduced in microcapsule. Meanwhile, microcapsule improves the stability of substances. For example, making Abamectin into CS formulation can improve stability under UV-light. 

In 2021, we developed PILARNEOMEC (Abamectin CS). According to a leaf and soil degradation dynamic test, Abamectin in microcapsule, compared to conventional EC, showed a much-improved lasting effect, where the half-life was increased from 1.4 days to 6 days while UV resistance improved by 60%.


Degradation curve of Abamectin B1a in PILARNEOMEC (Abamectin CS) on Cucumber Leaves


Degradation curve of Abamectin B1a in Abamectin EC on Cucumber Leaves


Degradation curve of Abamectin B1a in PILARNEOMEC (Abamectin CS) in soil


Degradation curve of Abamectin B1a in Abamectin EC in soil

Microcapsule technology is of help in isolating active ingredients, thus reducing the harm to humans and animals. For example, microcapsule can reduce human skin irritation caused by Lambda-cyhalothrin. Meanwhile, microcapsule controls release rate, maintains effective concentration and prolongs persistent period, such as pre-mergence herbicides S-metolachlor and Butachlor.

The above features of microcapsule allow products to have distinctive advantages such as release control, stability improvement and toxicity reduction, which other formulation types do not have. These advantages can significantly extend the persistence of pesticides, which help decrease the number of applications to cut down the cost of application and reduce pesticide residues, to improve the quality of agricultural products.

Pilarquim adheres to its differentiation strategy, including innovation of active ingredient mixtures, formulation types, marketing and human resource development. Among them, microcapsule is Pilarquim’s key area of innovation. In this area, Pilarquim has launched eight microcapsule products in China, covering insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and seed treatments. In 2021, Pilarquim’s microcapsule portfolio in China is enriched with four new products: PILARSEED (Clothianidin + Fludioxonil + Lambda-cyhalothrin ZCS); PILARCOVER (Butachlor + Oxadiargyl CS); PILARNEOMEC (Abamectin CS); PILARWIN (Prochloraz + Fenoxanil ZC). 

In the next three years, more than 20 new microcapsule products will be launched to global market. In 2021, Pilarquim’s Lambda-cyhalothrin CS launched in the Brazilian market, Pilarquim’s microcapsule technology and products are gradually recognized in the global market.

Looking back into the past 10-year development of Pilarquim Research and Development Center, we firstly made microcapsules in labs, and then brought them to production workshops and the crop field. We managed to overcome difficulties and solve problems one after another. Among the R&D pipelines, the industrialization of microcapsule is most prominent. It used to be a big headache to apply a lab technology to mass production. In this regard, we have experienced countless failures. At that time, we did not lose confidence and did not give up just because of momentary losses. Instead, we continued our efforts on formulation optimization and process refining which lead to today’s achievements eventually. 

In the years ahead, Pilarquim will still concentrate on the development of microcapsule technology. The technical advancement in the new PILARCLOTRIN (Clothianidin + Lambda-cyhalothrin ZC) in 2021 stands for Pilarquim’s new breakthrough in the field of microcapsule development. By modifying the wall material and upgrading the solvent system, the odor and skin irritation of PILARCLOTRIN are significantly reduced.

The future of pesticide microcapsule will certainly move towards the following directions: slow release to switch to controlled release; environment-friendly wall material to replace synthetic wall material to reduce pollution of “microplastics” to the environment; formulations designed to adapt to different application scenarios; adoption of safer and more environment-friendly production process; and establishment of a scientific evaluation criterion. These will be Pilarquim’s key tasks of microcapsule technology development for the next decade.

AgroPages: What other technical innovation reserves do you have besides the microcapsule technology? What are the scenarios of applications of these new technologies? What kind of problems are these new technologies targeting?

Liu Runfeng: Besides microcapsule formulations, the R&D center has rich experience in DF, CS, OD and FS, which are safe and environment-friendly formulation types.

Among these formulation types, the DF is based on optimization of the recipe and refining of process. In this product range, we have 30-plus recipe reserves, of which products already put into production include Dimethomorph + Cymoxanil DF, Pyraclostrobin + Metiram DF, Copper hydroxide DF, Boscalid DF and Dimethomorph DF. At present, the center owns a laboratory test spray drying tower, whilst our production base is equipped with two sets of spray drying towers for mass production to support an annual capacity of 1,000 tons, satisfying Pilarquim’s needs and OEM business. 

Regarding SC, Pilarquim is competent in developing high water-soluble, low melting point pesticide technical and pesticide technical mixtures. For example, we possess the mature technology of Pyraclostrobin SC and its mixtures. PILARTEP (Pyraclostrobin + Tebuconazole SC) of Pilarquim has been in the market for the past six years, with zero quality complaint. The other Pyraclostrobin mixtures, such as Pyraclostrobin + Epoxiconazole / Fluazinam / Thiophanate-methyl / Prothioconazole, are of higher stability. The high water-soluble pesticide technicals, such as Thiamethoxam, Clothianidin and Imidacloprid, which are prone to Ostwald Ripening, has improved satisfactorily, having formed a common technical solution. Other problems such as the growth of particles of Buprofezin SC, Spirodiclofen SC and Chlorfenapyr SC have also been solved.

As for seed treatment, Pilarquim has developed a mature system to improve the application of seed treatment. We have developed and commercialized a red color paste. In addition, Pilarquim has developed a new film-forming agent, which is not only of good air permeability, but also highly safe for seeds. Additionally, color on seeds is always maintained even soaking seeds into water, which significantly reduces the workload of rice growers and provides users with a better experience.

AgroPages: What is Pilarquim’s view on adjuvant development? What are the main application aspects, in your opinion? What kind of research achievement have you got so far?


Liu Runfeng: Aiming to improve efficacy and reduce application rate, Pilarquim has been making endless efforts on tank-mix adjuvant and aerial application-oriented adjuvant development. Presently, Pilarquim is planning launching several high-efficient tank-mix adjuvants in 2022, including Jiaorun (reducing surface tension and increasing foliar spreading), Purunke (improving permeability and efficacy), Piaorun (anti-drifting and pro-penetration for aerial application), and Gurun (anti-leaching of pre-emergence herbicide). The launch of these adjuvants will enable efficient pesticide application in various application scenarios. 

At the same time, Pilarquim has achieved significant progress in nano-pesticide development and is planning the launch of a Nano-Copper hydroxide in 2022. The masterpiece of Pilarquim, PILARTEP (Pyraclostrobin + Tebuconazole SC), will be upgraded to Nano-formulation with much smaller particle size, which will increase the specific surface area. The upgraded product will provide a more uniform dispersion on leaf surface, with better coverage on targets. Thus, the efficacy gets higher. Pilarquim’s pursuit of excellence never ends.

AgroPages: From your point of view, at what level is Chinese pesticide formulation research and development globally? What are the challenges to global formulation research and development? What are the key issues that future formulation manufacturers need to tackle for their products to compete in the global terminal market?

Liu Runfeng: Chinese pesticide formulation technology has developed rapidly for decades, which has made significant progress, covering all aspects such as the primary theoretical research, pesticide adjuvant application, production equipment upgrading, formulation application and quality standardization. However, there is still a big gap compared to developed countries in Europe and the United States. Chinese agrochemical enterprises are small in scale, poor in innovation, and homogeneous in product development, which lead to vicious price competition. Most of exportation of pesticide from China is technical products which is not good for the brand development. Therefore, if Chinese pesticides brand want to go global, the proportion of export of pesticide formulation products has to be increased as soon as possible. 

With the changes in the development conception, China is implementing a most stringent environmental regulatory compliance policy, the strict work safety rule and the new pesticide administration regulation. In the meantime, due to the impact of Covid-19, the international trade friction, and the vast fluctuations in raw material prices, the concentration of Chinese pesticide manufacturers is increasing, which makes the stronger become stronger. Large companies have a stronger capacity against pressure to be more resilient, being backed up by their excellent innovation ability, enhanced brand influence, higher product quality, strong supply chain and resource integration capabilities. On the contrary, companies that rely on price competition and unorderly growth in the short run will soon come across the day to struggle for survival. In a word, the entire industry is developing towards health and standardization. 

Globally, the development cycle of innovative compounds is getting longer, whilst innovation in formulation and application technologies is becoming more and more critical. It is expected that more enterprises will get involved in the research and development of rational mixture, formulation technology, and accurate application method. There will be more competition in differentiated formulation. If a manufacturer wants to move ahead, a more extensive investment is required. In the meantime, effort needs to be made to expedite the marketing of new products to avoid the situation of “new product becoming outdated due to delay in marketing.” Therefore, future manufacturers and suppliers must first stick to innovative products with stable quality, coupled with continued brand promotion and technical service. On the other hand, manufacturers need stick to build a series of premium products, provide a dominant position to the supply chain. Only through this effort can your products become competitive in the global terminal market. 


If you also want to introduce your technology expertise, or tell the development story of your company, please contact:

Mickey Shan


Source: AgroNews
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