Editor Note: “Gowan continually seeks innovative technologies across these sites to provide answers to growers' needs. It starts with the pest problem in the farmer's crop, where we rigorously test our products under a wide range of conditions to maximize efficacy. Our formulation capabilities play an important role in optimizing the product's ease of use and biology by harnessing our capabilities to characterize active ingredients (for both biological and conventional pesticides) and optimizing inert ingredients for all major formulation types. Our innovation has led to several patents and trade secrets that set our products apart from other choices the grower may have in the market,”said James Essinger, Head of Chemistry at Gowan Company in a recent interview with AgroPages.
He also shared his views on the overview of formulation R&D, production and application of Gowan, the challenges and countermeasures of agrochemical formulation & bioformulation development, the company’s toll formulation business&strength, as well as some changes of market requirements, regulation & policy and application technologies on agrochemical industry etc.
Head of Chemistry at Gowan Company
Please briefly introduce Gowan, milestone events, global presence and core competitiveness.
Gowan Group is a global, family-owned agriculture solutions business headquartered in Yuma, AZ. Gowan specializes in developing, marketing, and manufacturing global agriculture inputs such as crop protection products, seeds, and fertilizers. Jon Jessen founded Gowan in 1962 as a crop consultancy business. Since then, Gowan has expanded to 27 entities in 15 countries and sales in over 70 countries. Underpinning the success of Gowan is understanding the needs of growers and providing them with solutions to critical pest problems. Grower's needs are solved using an interdisciplinary science-driven approach involving field biology, regulatory, and formulation science.
Could you introduce the overview of formulation R&D, production and application of Gowan, and relevant facilities& capabilities? Could you highlight the innovation formulation technology and special features? And share some technologies to accelerate formulation innovation?
Gowan Formulations R&D is global, with three full-capability facilities in the U.S.A., Italy, and Colombia. We also have scale-up/manufacturing sites in these three general locations.
Gowan continually seeks innovative technologies across these sites to provide answers to growers' needs. It starts with the pest problem in the farmer's crop, where we rigorously test our products under a wide range of conditions to maximize efficacy. Our formulation capabilities play an important role in optimizing the product's ease of use and biology by harnessing our capabilities to characterize active ingredients (for both biological and conventional pesticides) and optimizing inert ingredients for all major formulation types. Our innovation has led to several patents and trade secrets that set our products apart from other choices the grower may have in the market.
One benefit of an integrated approach to developing new products is accelerated speed to bring new products to market. Frequent technical reviews and cross-functional feedback on project prioritization and the design of definitive and practical lab tests to identify "full-stop" technical issues as early as possible. While speed to market is important – what is just as important is continuous formulation improvement of our existing products. We constantly seek ways to improve our products' efficacy and maximize desirable handling characteristics for the grower through incremental improvements in formulation and packaging technology.
What are the challenges and countermeasures during the process of formulation R&D, production and application? Tell us some successful cases of how GOWAN develop innovation formulations suited to different market needs and application scenarios.
An integrated team of people from Biology, Development, Marketing, Sales, and Regulatory groups regularly discuss grower needs and a changing regulatory landscape and identify desirable formulation characteristics to improve our products. Our Formulation teams provide regular updates for new active ingredients to confirm grower needs will be met and potential opportunities in proprietary technology. For example, benzobicyclon is an important active ingredient in the rice market and is the first HPPD inhibitor (Group 27) for use in rice. The formulations team developed novel formulations of this active ingredient to enable its use in different delivery systems. An example of improving existing technology is our work with microplastic replacements in A.I. encapsulated formulations, which are needed to meet changing regulatory challenges. Our goal is to maintain efficacy while satisfying regulatory needs to ensure the grower has the tools needed to grow better crops.
Could you introduce your company's biologcals business? What are the challenges&solutions of biologicals formulation and combination of biologicals and chemical pesticides in the R&D, Production and Application?
Gowan has been involved in biologicals since our Natural Cryolite was introduced in the 1960s. Biologicals were once thought to be confined to the organic crop sector. However, recent developments around improving biological product efficacy coupled with the need to reduce the presence of synthetic pesticide residues in the crop and emerging pest resistance are growing the popularity of biological pesticides among some growers. In response to this, an alliance with Gowan and the biological pesticide company Ecoflora in 2011 allowed for expanding new biological technologies for Gowan, bringing new tools to growers in an expanding market. One outcome from this team is introducing an extract-based product of Swinglea glutinosa that has shown excellent disease control and has been received enthusiastically by growers in various countries, including the United States.
Biological pesticides are typically complex mixtures, where individual components have varying physical properties (around things like solubility, stability, etc.). Some biological pesticides such as Trichoderma-based formulations, contain living organisms as active ingredients. These active ingredient sources can affect the technical risk in certain formulation types and require specific testing equipment and conditions to confirm shelf-life. In addition, ingredients and processing conditions must maximize the viability of the active ingredient. Additionally, certain jurisdictions must certify inerts and adjuvants for organic farming. These certifications are through OMRI in the U.S. and Mexico, which may not necessarily be approved for organic farming in Europe by institutions like the FiBL, necessitating an adjustment to the formulation depending on where sales occur. Finally, environmental conditions at the time of application (such as temperature and humidity) can significantly impact bioefficacy.
Could you introduce your company's toll formulation business &relevant competitive strength? What are the business mode and criteria in choosing partners?
Gowan has been offering leading formulation and packaging tolling services to our partners through Gowan Milling since 1974. We can formulate and package all types of crop protection products. To ensure partner satisfaction, we continue to meet our three pillars of success by operating safely, providing a quality product, and having efficient operations.Our Arizona location limits exposure to extreme weather conditions ensuring year-long operations without disruptions. Gowan Milling can manufacture material duty-free by utilizing our foreign trade zone status for partners with international sales. As supply chain issues continue worldwide, Gowan Milling has maintained flexibility to adapt to the needs of our partners to ensure product delivery.
Could you share some changes of market requirements, regulation & policy and application technologies of your company's target markets? What is the product development strategy in response to evolving changes?
We need to continuously adapt our product to emerging grower needs, starting with applying the product. Growers seek products that are easy to mix and apply, work reliably on the target pests, minimize non-target exposure, and are safe to the crop. Changing grower practices must be proactively addressed during the development phase of our products, especially with the long lead times to get products through the regulatory process. Some of the recent needs are around efforts to reduce application water volumes, minimize volatility, and package disposal.
The biology around pest control is also changing. Growers seek methods to reduce overall pesticide use through techniques like I.P.M. (integrated pest management) and improving the length of control after application (i.e., improved rainfastness, better leaf penetration, reduced degradation, etc.). Added to that is a shift in the pest problems – caused by challenges such as resistance to pesticides, new pests, or changes in crop practices. Pest resistance can be overcome through things like I.P.M., bringing new modes of action, rotation, and mixtures to provide multiple modes of action. Our copper products are an example, contributing to a robust I.P.M. strategy by merging older and newer technologies to manage application rates and resistance.
Regulatory pressure to reduce application rates will continue. With these lower use rates, maximizing unit activity through formulation technology, use of additives, new application technology, and other ways to maximize efficacy becomes more critical. For example, formulation efforts can be new and specific to the active ingredients or utilize an existing platform technology that can accelerate the availability of candidates to test the effect of rate reduction.
This interview will be published in AgroPages '2022 Formulation & Adjuvant Technology ' magazine to be published this May.
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