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Borregaard: Committed to Microplastic-free Biobased Sustainable Seed Coating Technologiesqrcode

Jun. 10, 2022

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Jun. 10, 2022

“Borregaard can offer solutions compatible with seed protection and seed enhancement formulations. These products meet the regulatory requirements and are compatible with innovative seed technology developments. Our offering for seed coatings includes microplastic-free sustainable rheology additives, film formers, and bio-based binders/dispersants. These include products which show a high tolerance to the demanding conditions typically seen in a conventional agricultural formulation including synthetics and biologicals,” said Rebecca Blell, Technical Applications Manager for Exilva in Agri at Borregaard in a recent interview with AgroPages.

She also shared her views on Borregaard's strategic position towards seed coating technologies, its seed coating technologies and unique strength, R&D and relevant capabilities, target clients & markets and business model, as well as challenges of seed treatment formulations and countermeasures.


Rebecca Blell
Technical Applications Manager for Exilva in Agri at Borregaard

Please talk about Borregaard solutions for agriculture.

Borregaard operates one of the world’s most advanced and sustainable biorefineries.

We offer biobased and microplastic free solutions to a wide range of application areas including the agricultural sector.

As a world leader for Lignosulfonates and modified Humic acids, we take great pride in offering the crop protection and fertilizer industries environmentally friendly alternatives to petroleum and coal-based chemicals. These products include dispersants, binders as well as natural performance-enhancing ingredients for Plant Nutrient and Fertilizer Formulators.

In 2016, Borregaard expanded its product range by starting the world’s first commercial production of microfibrillated cellulose, Exilva® Cellulose Fibrils. Exilva is a shear thinning rheology additive, extremely tolerant to high ionic strength and is a film former. It is a problem solver in a wide range of application areas.

Borregaard's wide range of lignin-based biopolymers and cellulose fibrils can greatly help to produce innovative and sustainable high quality dry and water-based formulations for crop protection, plant nutrition and seed coatings.


What’s the driving force in seed coating development and technology?

In the past few years, we have noticed an increasing demand for biobased and biodegradable solutions and additives for seed coatings and treatments.

Strong focus on sustainable agriculture as well as increasing regulatory requirements for such products are the driving force for new seed technologies and developments. Seed coatings allow treating crops in a precise and efficient manner leading to less use of active ingredients per field as compared to spray applications, hence an economical and an ecological benefit.

MarketsandMarkets™ expects a significant growth within this technology with an estimated Market at USD 6.1 billion in 2022 and projected growth at a CAGR of 8.3% to reach USD 9.2 billion by 2027.

Agricultural companies worldwide also confirm their commitment towards more sustainable seed coating technologies.

Seed film coatings, encrusting and pelleting technologists and formulators are all working on one of the two below objectives:

- How to use biologicals instead of synthetics

- How to replace synthetic binders with biodegradable and microplastic free solutions


What’s the strategic position of Borregaard towards seed coating technologies?

Borregaard offers inert ingredients and co-formulants to use in seed coating technologies. We do not have a complete seed coating solution. Our strategy is to be a key supplier of performance enhancers for seed coatings helping companies innovate more sustainable technologies. Partnerships with specialized seed treatment companies in co-developing new technologies is one of the options we are also considering.

Borregaard’s technical team has generated initial data on the use of some Borregaard products as binders, co-binders and film formers for seed coatings and treatments to answer the request from the market and respond to the existing needs. We are happy to discuss these findings with our customers as well as provide technical and sales support.

Seed coating is a relevant application area for future sustainable agricultural solutions and Borregaard will continue to support seed technologists with products and know -how.

Please introduce Borregaard solutions for seed coatings.

Borregaard can offer solutions compatible with seed protection and seed enhancement formulations. These products meet the regulatory requirements and are compatible with innovative seed technology developments.

Our offering for seed coatings includes microplastic-free sustainable rheology additives, film formers, and bio-based binders/dispersants. These include products which show a high tolerance to the demanding conditions typically seen in a conventional agricultural formulation including synthetics and biologicals.

Borregaard’s products can be used with fungicides, insecticides, plant growth regulators, biostimulants and fertilizers in both dry, powder formulations and in liquid formulations such as flowable concentrates (FS), emulsions (EW) and capsule suspension (CS).

Our technical team is available to discuss the benefits of Borregaard’s products such as Exilva, as well as Borregaard’s solutions based on Lignin Biopolymers.

Please highlight Borregaard’s Exilva® in seed coatings.

One Borregaard product for use in seed coating technologies is Exilva. Exilva is a biodegradable and biobased rheology additive and suspending aid with excellent film forming properties. It consists of cellulose fibrils and water; chemical composition is cellulose and water. It can be added to the seed protection formulations and to the seed enhancement, biostimulants and nutrition/fertilizer formulations. Due to its robustness, its high salt tolerance, and its excellent chemical and biological compatibility, it allows formulating with high ionic strength molecules and combinations of multiple chemistries, multiple actives (biologicals and synthetic), fertilizers and nutrients.

Exilva can structure and stabilize liquid formulations such as Flowable concentrates (FS) and seed coat liquids. Its extreme shear thinning behavior makes liquid formulations prepared with Exilva highly shear thinning, with high viscosity at rest and low viscosity at high shear. This imparts excellent anti-settling and suspending power in formulations leading to good stability over time while maintaining good flow properties. Due to its film forming feature, Exilva can also act as a co-binder reducing dusting of seed coatings without harming the germination of the seeds. It has even shown some positive trends on the germination speed in some of the seed coatings tested.

Exilva is sustainable cellulose, EPA inert, REACH exempt, microplastic free and very recently certified OMRI, compliant for Organic Farming. It is safe for the user, the seed and the environment. Exilva has been a commercially and globally available product since 2016.

To demonstrate the effect of Exilva on dusting of seed coatings, we have added Exilva to two starch-based binders before coating corn seeds. The reason for selecting starch-based binders is that commercial microplastic-free starch-based solutions for seeds already exist in the market today. Adding Exilva to these binders when treating seeds showed that Exilva can act as a co-binder/film former improving the performance of the binders without compromising sustainability.  The coatings with Exilva were compared to the same coatings without Exilva as well as with a synthetic binder without Exilva. The addition of Exilva reduces the dust-off to a level similar to that of the untreated seed.


We are available to discuss all the details on the formulations and study.

Exilva’s benefits in seed coatings could therefore be summarized as follows: 

  • Stability of liquid formulation

  • Anti-settling of solids, pigments and capsules

  • Good coating behavior: low dust, good flowability and safe and early germination.

You can consider using Exilva in microplastic free developments to enhance the characteristics of biobased binders that are starch based, lignin based or other, enhance shelf-life stability of the liquid formulations and reduce dust of the coatings.

You can also consider adding Exilva directly while coating the seed.

Corn seeds


Treated - Starch based Binder 1 with Exilva
Treated - Starch based Binder 2 with Exilva
Soybean seeds


Treated - Starch based Binder 1 with ExilvaTreated - Starch based Binder 2 with Exilva

Borregaard’s R&D and relevant capabilities in seed coating

We wish to offer good technical service to our customers so they can develop new and better products.

In R&D, we are investing in our own competence. We work on highlighting the features and benefits of our products in simple systems as well as the robustness and compatibility under relevant conditions. We also work with external laboratories and consultant to strengthen our understanding of the use of Borregaard products in specific application areas like seed coatings and prepare demonstrators. The demonstrators help show what our customers can expect in terms of performance and innovation when using Borregaard solutions.

If we take Exilva as an example, this product is mainly a rheological modifier and a film former. We work in R&D to better understand its rheological behavior, compatibility with relevant chemistries and formulation types as well as its effect on formulation shelf-life and stability. Consultants specialized in this field help us prepare seed coatings with formulations including Exilva and check the additive’s influence on dust and germination. With this process, we increase our competence and ensure that the latest industry relevant equipment’s and test methods are used to generate the demonstrators.


Why choose Borregaard’s products and solutions over other ones?

Sustainability is in Borregaard’s DNA. This is one of the main reasons to use Borregaard products. We offer biobased alternatives and solutions to the agricultural industry and seed coating technologies. Borregaard offers co-formulants, lignin-based binders and cellulose fibrils as co-binder/film formers to solve problems and improve key functionalities of existing or new biobased binders.

Our strategy is to offer solutions to these technologies with good technical service on how to use our products and help highlight Borregaard’s product performance and sustainability profile.

We have worked the last 2 years on generating demonstrators to show the potential of our binders, co-binders and inerts and inspire for innovation.

What are the target clients and business model? How does your company combine products with services?

We use our existing know-how in formulation and combine with new learnings and demonstrators to help customers and save time in product screening.

With seed coating technologies, we see potential for our products to be beneficial when preparing the crop protection part of the coatings (eg FS, CS, EW, OD,..) as well as companies working with the binder formulations and seed coat liquids.

We are also available to discuss with seed companies directly on how Borregaard products could be of help to them. Adding Exilva directly during the film coating process or the seed pelleting or encrusting is possible. The product could be delivered in a format easily pumpable into any production facility. The benefits could therefore be directly in its capacity to reduce dust, to improve flowability and later on to allow early and safe germination of the seeds.


Exilva® Cellulose Fibrils by Borregaard. Here as a gel (2% fibrils in water) to the left, and as a paste (10% fibrils in water) to the right.

What market regions is Borregaard focusing on now? Is there any plan to extend new markets?

Borregaard is truly a global company with a strong position today in supplying the Agricultural market with Lignin based Biopolymers as dispersing & complexing agents and can offer sales and technical support.

With the Exilva product range, we are more present in Europa and US and expanding into Asia. We can again here offer sales and technical support.

The driving forces of developments in seed technology in the different regions of the world are different.

Innovations and developments in Europe are driven by regulatory needs. It is the driving market when it comes to sustainability and traditionally Borregaard’s largest market for Agricultural products.

USA is one major market for seed coatings with strong know-how, innovation power and influence on the rest of the world.
Asia is announced as the fastest growing market for seed coatings. We expect these markets to follow trends towards sustainability and innovative technologies seen elsewhere in the world.

What are the challenges of seed treatment formulation and countermeasures? What is the key role of Borregaard solutions in the whole seed treatment product development process?

Traditional binders used in seed coatings are not biodegradable and are considered microplastic. They will not be allowed for use in Europe and probably the global market will follow these regulatory requirements.

Seed technologists are looking for biobased binders to reduce dust and maintain very low to no stickiness to ensure good flowability of the seeds as well as safe germination and emergence of the coated seeds.

Existing biobased binders might fit into the regulatory requirements but when used on their own, they do not always provide the performance required. The binder should be able to reduce the dust to very low levels without hindering germination.

In addition, different treated seeds require different amounts of binders.

Borregaard solutions include biobased binders, film former, co-formulants and inerts enabling innovation of sustainable high performing products/technologies.

We have microplastic free solutions that could be used in seed coating technology.

With regulations prohibiting the use of microplastics in seed treatment expected soon in Europe, many companies are competing to develop next generation, biodegradable, microplastic-free seed coatings. What do you think of this competitive situation? How is your company coping with it?

Competition is good and healthy. The aim is to find the best solution for the end user.

Regulatory requirements might be challenging but in the long term, they are great initiatives to facilitate and motivate sustainable innovations.

More companies and technologists are therefore working on finding new solutions.

New developed formulations often require combined solutions and Borregaard's Agri products are useful tools to help reach the required performance in a sustainable and innovative way.

Exilva, for example, is a new technology from Borregaard, hence it is good for us that there is competition and a need for innovation and new technologies.

Our products are sustainable, from renewable sources, and can work alone or in combination with other binders. We are happy to discuss with seed technology specialists and recommend what we know as well as learn what we can help with.

If you'd like to share your company/solutions story, please contact Grace Yuan via: grace@agropages.com

“2022 Seed Treatment Special” magazine will come out this June. For Feature sponsoring or advertising, please contact Christina at christina@agropages.com.

pdf.jpgRead 2021 editon of "Seed Treatment Special"


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