what is a surfactant in agriculture



Surfactants are adjuvants that facilitate and accentuate the emulsifying, dispersing, spreading, wetting, or other surface modifying properties of liquids. Many pesticides require the addition of an adjuvant, and some do not.

What are the types of surfactants in agriculture?

A surfactant is a combination of the phrase “surface active agent,” which is an organic compound that is soluble in chemical solutions or water and allows mixtures to blend, adhere and work better. They serve as an enhancement and help to break the barrier of hard to penetrate surfaces, like the waxy surface of a leaf.

What are surfactants and how do they work?

In particular surfactants increase the foliar uptake of herbicides, growth regulators, and defoliants. Therefore, the choice of the adjuvant in an agrochemical formulation is …

What is a surfactant in pest control?

 · We’re all aware of one of the most important roles that surfactants play in agriculture: reducing surface tension so that liquid can better penetrate the surface. Their addition to crop formulations improves efficiency and helps save water used for irrigation, as it reduces the amount of runoff water.


What are surfactants used in agriculture?

Surfactants are one of the most commonly recommended adjuvants on herbicide labels, especially for water-soluble and systemic herbicides. Surfactants like to spread themselves out over the top of a leaf surface and find the smallest little crack to work themselves into the plant.

What is a surfactant and what does it do?

What is a Surfactant? Surfactants are a primary component of cleaning detergents. The word surfactant means surface active agent. As the name implies, surfactants stir up activity on the surface you are cleaning to help trap dirt and remove it from the surface.

What are examples of surfactant?

Sodium stearate is a good example of a surfactant. It is the most common surfactant in soap. Another common surfactant is 4-(5-dodecyl)benzenesulfonate. Other examples include docusate (dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate), alkyl ether phosphates, benzalkaonium chloride (BAC), and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS).

What is surfactant in fertilizer?

Of more relevance to foliar fertilizers is the use of surfactants, which work by lowering the surface tension of the formulation to improve spreading and adhesion of the fertilizer on the leaf surface and therefore, increase the leaf area in contact with the fertilizer (Fernández and Eichert, 2009).

What is surfactant for herbicides?

Surfactant for Herbicides is a wetting agent with 80% non-ionic surfactant for increasing the penetration, coverage and overall effectiveness of almost any herbicide. Surfactant for herbicides can be used with almost all herbicide sprays including Trimec, Atrazine, Brush Killer and 2, 4-D Amine.

Why surfactants are used?

surfactant, also called surface-active agent, substance such as a detergent that, when added to a liquid, reduces its surface tension, thereby increasing its spreading and wetting properties. In the dyeing of textiles, surfactants help the dye penetrate the fabric evenly.

What is a good surfactant?

A common “trick” used when spraying weeds around your home may be to add a few drops of dish soap, such as Dawn®. Dish soap is used as a surfactant, both when washing dishes and applying herbicide to plants.

What is a natural surfactant?

Natural surfactants or biosurfactants are amphiphilic biological compounds, usually extracellular, produced by a variety of microorganisms from various substances including waste materials.

Can I use vegetable oil as a surfactant?

NATUR’L OIL is a unique blend of special emulsifiers and 93% vegetable oil. It is a non- ionic surfactant. It is compatible with most herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, growth regulators and defoliants.

Is surfactant the same as crop oil?

In general, three types of oils are commonly referred to as surfactants: vegetable seed oils, crop oil concentrates, and esterified seed oils.

Why are surfactants bad for plants?

Cationic Surfactants are positively charged, and are often very toxic to plants as they can disrupt membrane ion balance.

Should I use surfactant with insecticide?

Surfactants are not meant to be used on their own, as they have no effect on the plant by themselves and will not help prevent or control any disease or pest. Only use a surfactant when instructed to on the label of your insecticide, herbicide, or fungicide.


What are the advantages of surfactants in agriculture?

Adjuvants such as surfactants improve pesticide efficiency by multiple mechanisms. In particular surfactants increase the foliar uptake of herbicides, growth regulators, and defoliants. Therefore, the choice of the adjuvant in an agrochemical formulation is crucial. Surfactants include anionic, nonionic, amphoteric and cationic surfactants. This review describes the role and properties of new adjuvants for agriculture. In particular adjuvants such as glyphosate formulations are modified to decrease ecotoxicity.

What is surfactant used for?

In plant disease management, surfactants are generally used in combination with pesticides to facilitate delivery of the pesticide chemicals to the target sites in plants, vectors, or pathogens. Their intended use is rarely for direct effect on plant pathogens.

What is a biosurfactant?

Biosurfactants are environment compatible surface-active biomolecules with multifunctional properties which can be utilized in various industries. In this study a biosurfactant producing novel plant growth promoting isolate Pseudomonas guariconensis LE3 from the rhizosphere of Lycopersicon esculentum is presented as biostimulant and biocontrol agent. Biosurfactant extracted from culture was characterized to be mixture of various mono- and di-rhamnolipids with antagonistic activity against Macrophomina phaseolina, causal agent of charcoal rot in diverse crops. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR) analysis confirmed the rhamnolipid nature of biosurfactant. PCR analysis established the presence of genes involved in synthesis of antibiotics diacetylphloroglucinol, phenazine 1-carboxylic acid and pyocyanin, and lytic enzymes chitinase and endoglucanase suggesting biocontrol potential of the isolate. Plant growth promoting activities shown by LE3 were phosphate solubilization and production of siderophores, indole acetic acid (IAA), ammonia and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate deaminase (ACCD). To assemble all the characteristics of LE3 various bioformuations were developed. Amendment of biosurfactant in bioformulation of LE3 cells improved the shelf life. Biosurfactant amended formulation of LE3 cells was most effective in biocontrol of charcoal rot disease of sunflower and growth promotion in field conditions. The root adhered soil mass of plantlets inoculated with LE3 plus biosurfactant was significantly higher over control. Biosurfactant amended formulation of LE3 cells caused maximum yield enhancement (80.80%) and biocontrol activity (75.45%), indicating that addition of biosurfactant improves the plant-bacterial interaction and soil properties leading to better control of disease and overall improvement of plant health and yield.

How long have pesticides been used?

pesticides. Indeed, the use of adjuvants dated back as early as about 200 years

What is LAS in agrochemicals?

Linear alkylbenzene sulphonates (LAS) are the main anionic surfactants produced worldwide and calcium linear alkylbenzene sulphonate is used mostly in agrochemical formulations as an adjuvant (Castro et al., 2013a). … … The water quality used for mixing the surfactant with the pesticide is also an important factor.

What are the uses of nanomaterials in agriculture?

The use of nanomaterials in agriculture is a current need and could be helpful in overcoming food security risks. Brassica napus L. is the third most important crop for edible oil, having double low unsaturated fatty acids. In the present study, we investigated the effects of green synthesized Zn NPs on biochemical effects, antioxidant enzymes, nutritional quality parameters and on the fatty acid profile of rapeseed (B. napus). Plant-mediated synthesis of zinc nanoparticles (Zn NPs) was carried out using Mentha arvensis L. leaf extract followed by characterization through ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy (UV-vis), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), energy dispersive X-Ray (EDX), and X-Ray diffraction (XRD). NPs exhibited irregular shapes ranging in size from 30-70 nm and EDX analysis confirmed 96.08% of Zn in the sample. The investigated biochemical characterization (protein content, proline content, total soluble sugar (TSS), total flavonoid content (TFC), and total phenolic content (TPC) showed a substantial change on exposure to Zn NPs. A dose-dependent gradual increase was observed in the antioxidant enzymes, superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), and catalase (CAT). Oil and moisture contents dropped significantly from the control level in the rapeseed (B. napus) varieties. However, different trends in nutritional (Zn, Na+, K+) and fatty acid profiling of B. napus have been noted. This study demonstrates that Zn NPs have the potential to improve the biochemical, nutritional, antioxidant enzymes, and fatty acid profile of B. napus varieties.

Does a solvent have a high flash point?

viscosity. Increasingly, if a solvent is essential it will have a high flash point and low

Why are surfactants used in agriculture?

Sectors such as agriculture have come to understand their many virtues for enhancing the performance of fertilisers and plant protection products on crops.

Why are surfactants hydrophilic?

Because they are molecules with a lipophilic and a hydrophilic fraction, which can present different charges (the most typical in agriculture are non-ionic, anionic, and amphoteric), this provides surfactants with a versatility that displays a wide range of features, including:

Why do you put surfactants on plants?

Surfactants help the chemical stick to the plant, penetrating the waxy cuticle to allow the plant to absorb the chemical and increase the product’s effectiveness.

What is a surfactant spray?

Surfactants, also referred to as wetting agents or spreader stickers, help your liquid lawn and garden products adhere to, or “wet”, the foliage they are sprayed on, ensuring you get the most out of the products. Learn more about surfactants, why they are needed, and how to use one by reading below.

Why do plant leaves roll off?

The waxy cuticle present on most plant leaves can be hard to penetrate, causing liquids to roll right off. This can waste product and limit the effectiveness of the treatment unless a surfactant is used.

How to mix surfactant and water?

Mix the product with water in a hand pump or backpack sprayer according to the product label’s instructions. Add your surfactant in as well, then shake the sprayer (with the cap on) to agitate and thoroughly combine the solution. Then, apply your product and surfactant mixture according to the label.

What is methylated seed oil?

Methylated seed oils – Also known as MSOs, methylated seed oils help penetrate waxy cuticles and reduce the evaporation of a product. MSOs are soy based, then put through a methylization process to become a surfactant.

What is the chemical compound that lowers the surface tension between a liquid and a solid?

A surfactant is a chemical compound that lowers the surface tension between a liquid and a gas, solid, or other liquid.

What is non ionic surfactant?

Non-ionic surfactants – Non-ionic surfactants are neutral, meaning they have neither a positive nor a negative charge. Non-ionic surfactants are popular as surfactants as their neutral charge reduces the chance of having a reaction with the chemicals they are mixed with.

What is the purpose of surfactant?

Surfactants may act as detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, or dispersants .

Where are surfactants produced?

The human body produces diverse surfactants. Pulmonary surfactant is produced in the lungs in order to facilitate breathing by increasing total lung capacity, and lung compliance. In respiratory distress syndrome or RDS, surfactant replacement therapy helps patients have normal respiration by using pharmaceutical forms of the surfactants. One example of pharmaceutical pulmonary surfactants is Survanta ( beractant) or its generic form Beraksurf produced by Abbvie and Tekzima respectively. Bile salts, a surfactant produced in the liver, play an important role in digestion.

What is the structure of surfactant phases in water?

Structure of surfactant phases in water. In the bulk aqueous phase, surfactants form aggregates, such as micelles, where the hydrophobic tails form the core of the aggregate and the hydrophilic heads are in contact with the surrounding liquid.

Why do surfactant ions remain in oil?

Schematic diagram of a micelle – the lipophilic tails of the surfactant ions remain inside the oil because they interact more strongly with oil than with water. The polar “heads” of the surfactant molecules coating the micelle interact more strongly with water, so they form a hydrophilic outer layer that forms a barrier between micelles. This inhibits the oil droplets, the hydrophobic cores of micelles, from merging into fewer, larger droplets (“emulsion breaking”) of the micelle. The compounds that coat a micelle are typically amphiphilic in nature, meaning that micelles may be stable either as droplets of aprotic solvents such as oil in water, or as protic solvents such as water in oil. When the droplet is aprotic it is sometimes known as a reverse micelle.

Where can anionic surfactants be found?

Anionic surfactants can be found in soils as the result of sewage sludge application, wastewater irrigation, and remediation processes. Relatively high concentrations of surfactants together with multimetals can represent an environmental risk. At low concentrations, surfactant application is unlikely to have a significant effect on trace metal mobility.

How many tails does a surfactant have?

Surfactant molecules have either one tail or two; those with two tails are said to be double-chained .

What is the importance of surfactant adsorption?

The dynamics of surfactant adsorption is of great importance for practical applications such as in foaming, emulsifying or coating processes, where bubbles or drops are rapidly generated and need to be stabilized. The dynamics of absorption depend on the diffusion coefficient of the surfactant. As the interface is created, the adsorption is limited by the diffusion of the surfactant to the interface. In some cases, there can exist an energetic barrier to adsorption or desorption of the surfactant. If such a barrier limits the adsorption rate, the dynamics are said to be ‘kinetically limited’. Such energy barriers can be due to steric or electrostatic repulsions . The surface rheology of surfactant layers, including the elasticity and viscosity of the layer, play an important role in the stability of foams and emulsions.

What is biosurfactant in agriculture?

Biosurfactants in agriculture. Agricultural productivity to meet growing demands of human population is a matter of great concern for all countries. Use of green compounds to achieve the sustainable agriculture is the present necessity.

What is biosurfactant used for?

In agriculture, biosurfactants can be used for plant pathogen elimination and for increasing the bioavailability of nutrient for beneficial plant associated microbes. Biosurfactants can widely be applied for improving the agricultural soil quality by soil remediation.

Is biosurfactant toxic?

Biosurfactants are considered to be less toxic and eco-friendly and thus several types of biosurfactants have the potential to be commercially produced for extensive applications in pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and food industries.

What is surfactant used for?

Surfactants are compounds used in an array of cleaning products for their ability to lower the surface tension of water, in esse nce making the molecules slipperier, so they are less likely to stick to themselves and more likely to interact with oil and grease. Beyond soaps and detergents, surfactants are used in lubricants, inks, …

Why do lungs produce surfactants?

The lungs produce surfactants at the cellular level to aid in the breathing process by helping keep airways open. Uses & Benefits. Safety Information.

Can soap be used as a surfactant?

Without surfactants, soaps wouldn’t mix with the water, but would just roll off the water, making the cleaning process much more difficult. Surfactants also are used as an ingredient in lubricants, such as shaving cream, where they allow razors to easily remove stubble and help limit irritation.

What are surfactants used for?

Surfactants are involved in the production of many common food items and can be found in the extraction of cholesterol, solubiliztion of oils, liquor emulsification, prevention of component separation, and solubiliztion of essential nutrients.

Why are surfactants important?

The widespread importance of surfactants in practical applications, and scientific interest in their nature and properties, have precipitated a wealth of published literature on the subject and many ways these materials are exploited by research community through quality papers in various journals (Fig.5).

What is lecithin used for?

In confectionery, lecithin reduces viscosity, replaces more expensive ingredients, controls sugar solidification and the flowness properties of chocolate, helps in the homogeneous mixing and it can be used as a coating. In emulsions and fat spreads, it stabilizes emulsions, reduces spattering during frying, and improves texture of spreads and flavour release. In dough’s and bakery, it reduces fat and egg requirements, helps even distribution of ingredients in dough, stabilizes fermentation, increases volume, protects yeast cells in dough when frozen, and acts as a releasing agent to prevent sticking and simplify cleaning. It improves wetting properties of hydrophilic powders (e.g., low-fat proteins) and lipophilic powders (e.g., cocoa powder), controls dust, and helps complete dispersion in water to adsorb at interfaces. Lecithin keeps cocoa and cocoa butter in a candy bar from separating. In margarines, especially those containing high levels of fat (>75%), lecithin is added as an ‘antispattering’ agent for shallow frying. Margarine is an example of a W/O emulsion which consisting of 80% fat, the hot homogenized mixture of fat crystals, oil and water. It does not have to be a stabile emulsion since the emulsion is quickly set by rapid chilling. Lecithin, a typical ingredient in margarine, enhances the solubility of monoglycerides in the oil blend, and monoglycerides reduce the interfacial tension between the oil and water phases.

How does surfactant adsorption work?

For the water soluble surfactants the adsorption of the surfactant to the interface increases with concentration in the aqueous solution until the CMC is reached, at which the surfactant has formed a mono-layer at the interface. After that point the additional surfactant forms micelles, in the bulk.

What are nonionic surfactants?

The nonionic surfactant can be of polyol esters, polyoxyethylene esters, and poloxamers or pluronics which are poly (oxyethylene)-poly (oxypropylene)-poly (oxy ethylene) tri-block copolymers . The polyol esters include glycol and glycerol esters and sorbitan derivatives. Polyoxyethylene esters majorly include polyethylene glycol (PEGs). The most commonly used nonionic surfactants are ethers of fatty Alcohol15. Amphoteric surfactants are very mild, making them particularly suited for use in personal care preparations over sensitive skins. They can be anionic, cationic or non-ionic in solution, depending on the acidity or pH of the water. Those surfactants may contain two charged groups of different sign. The frequently used compound is alkyl betaines15. The chemical structures of few commonly used surfactants are shown in Fig.3

Where does lecithin come from?

Lecithin is a natural emulsifier, obtained mainly from vegetable oilseeds and egg yolk. Basic source for manufacture of food emulsifiers is actually come out from fats or oils or fatty acids. Main food emulsifiers, monoglycerides are produced with the reaction of fats or oils or fatty acids with glycerol.

What is the hydrophilic part of emulsifiers?

In commercial food emulsifiers, in general, the hydrophilic part can consist of glycerol, sorbitol, sucrose, propylene glycol or polyglycerol. The lipophilic part is formed by fatty acids derived from fats and oils such as soybean oil, rapeseed oil, coconut oil and palm kernel oils. 3.1 Emulsions in Foods.

What are the characteristics of surfactants?

15.2 Characteristics and Classification of Surfactants. Surfactants are substances that create self-assembled molecular clusters called micelles in a solution (water or oil phase) and adsorb to the interface between a solution and a different phase (gases/solids). To show these two physical properties, a surfactant must have a chemical structure …

What is surfactant in water?

Surfactants, or surface-active agents, are amphiphilic molecules. Their heads are polar, or hydrophilic, and their tails hydrophobic. They are soluble in both organic solvent and water. The surfactant reduces the surface tension of water by adsorbing at the liquid–gas interface. They also reduce the interfacial tension between oil and water by adsorbing at the liquid–liquid interface. CPE is the first extraction method in which a surfactant has been used. A surfactant could serve as an emulsifier to enhance the dispersion of the water-immiscible phase into the aqueous phase. Saraji and Bidgoli294 developed an efficient surfactant-assisted DLLME (SA-DLLME) for determination of phenylurea herbicides in water samples. Yamini et al. 238 reported another application of SA-DLLME for the extraction and determination of chlorophenols as model compounds in environmental water samples. The surfactants used are environmentally friendly and cost-effective to such an extent that the amounts used for effective extraction schemes are minimal compared with the amounts of organic solvents used in conventional DLLME. A list of surfactants as disperser used in DLLME along with representative concentrated analytes is given in Table 2.

What is the solubility of surfactants?

Surfactants are also classified depending on their solubility, such as hydrophilic surfactants that are soluble in water or hydrophobic (lipophilic) surfactants that are soluble in lipids. Ionic surfactants are generally hydrophilic surfactants, but nonionic surfactants can be either hydrophilic or lipophilic, depending on the balance of the hydrophilic group and lipophilic group. In other words, the solubility of nonionic surfactants depends on the balance between the hydrophilic group’s capacity of attracting water and the lipophilic group’s capacity of attracting oil. Hydrophilic-lipophilic balance (HLB) is an indicator that quantifies this relative balance. HLB was first proposed by Griffin 1 and currently several formulas to calculate HLB have been reported. 2,3 Since HLB indicates the characteristics of nonionic surfactants, it is commonly used as an indicator for choosing a surfactant for specific applications, such as emulsifiers or cleansers, which are both mentioned later in this chapter ( Fig. 15.2 ). However, since HLB is merely an indicator based on experience, it can be used as a reference to choose a surfactant for an application but this is not enough in formulation development and that can lead to many challenges. Knowing the characteristics of surfactants efficiently and quickly is vital in formulation development. In addition to the HLB, there are two indicators that subjectively show these characteristics: the cloud point for nonionic surfactants and the Krafft point for ionic surfactants.

How to remove DNAPLs from aquifers?

SEAR-solubilization techniques are commonly used to remove DNAPLs from aquifers. DNAPL-impacted sites can contain a number of components such as TCE, PCE; 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and other chlorinated solvents with densities that range from 1.1 to 1.6 g/ml. If these oils are displaced from the porous media as a “plume of dense oil” they tend to sink deeper into the aquifer, making their removal more difficult. Similar to hard surface cleaners, the SEAR-solubilization approach seeks to solubilize organic contaminants into the hydrophobic core of micelles, thereby increasing the apparent “aqueous solubility” of the contaminant [ 16, 17, 140, 141 ]. The process of oil removal in SEAR-solubilization technology is simple in principle: the surfactant formulation is continuously injected into the aquifer, then the surfactant micelles that encounter an NAPL–water interface solubilize the NAPL, and incorporate the solubilized NAPL into the aqueous phase. The surfactant solution loaded with NAPL is continuously extracted from the aquifer, the NAPL is then removed using different separation processes above ground, and the surfactant solution is then re-formulated and re-injected into the aquifer. This semi-closed continuous loop is monitored by measuring concentration of NAPL in the extracted surfactant solution to evaluate the need to change flow configuration or stop the surfactant flush. After the surfactant flush is completed, water is flushed through the system to remove any residual surfactant from the aquifer and re-equilibrate the system. The concentration of NAPL in the extracted water is closely monitored to determine the reduction of this concentration with respect to the initial value. The success of a remediation technology is evaluated in terms of the reduction of the aqueous NAPL concentration and the fraction of total NAPL removed (this is called source reduction). Also, the mass balance of the surfactant is an important parameter to determine the amount of surfactant retained in the aquifer. SEAR solubilization uses relatively large quantities of surfactants, typically the surfactant concentration ranges between 2 and 8% of anionic surfactants (e.g. sodium dihexyl sulfosuccinate), and/or nonionic surfactants (e.g. alkyl polyethylene glycols), and medium-chain alcohols (isopropanol, pentanol, etc.) [ 143, 144 ].

What is nonionic surfactant?

Nonionic surfactants are surfactants that do not dissociate into ions in aqueous solutions, and they are subclassified depending on the type of their hydrophilic group ( Fig. 15.1 ). Common hydrophilic groups of ionic surfactants are carboxylate (–COO − ), sulfate (–OSO 3− ), sulfonate (SO 3− ), carboxybetaine (–NR 2 CH 2 COO − ), …

Why are surfactants biobased?

Biobased surfactants derived from fatty acids and neutral lipids continue to grow in their employment and interest, due mainly to their good surfactant properties, biodegradability, biocompatibility, and their potential replacement of fossil fuel-derived surfactants, which is of interest to many consumers because of the linkage of fossil fuels to climate change. Currently, fossil fuel-derived feedstocks are less expensive than renewable resources. However, this trend will likely reverse in the future, thereby further enhancing long-term prospects of biobased surfactants. The versatility of chemistries available to convert fatty acids and other biobased feedstocks into viable and useful surfactants will be leveraged to prepare new and valuable biobased surfactants in the years to come, with increasing use of green manufacturing principles.

How do surfactants affect particle removal?

Surfactants can enhance particle removal from surfaces by modifying the particle-surface interaction forces. Adsorbed surfactant molecules can alter the van der Waals attractive force, electrostatic force, hydrophobic force, as well as provide a steric barrier to contact. The effect of surfactants on these forces can result in greatly enhanced particle removal efficiency.

What is a surfactant?

Surfactants are adjuvants that facilitate and accentuate the emulsifying, dispersing, spreading, wetting, or other surface modifying properties of liquids. Many pesticides require the addition of an adjuvant, and some do not. When applying fungicides, insecticides or herbicides without a recommended adjuvant, 30 percent to 50 percent reduction in …

What are the components of a surfactant?

Components of a surfactant molecule. The molecules on the surface of a water droplet are held together with more force than those of the interior water molecules. This causes surface tension, which can prevent many things from going into solution and getting wet. Surfactants overcome surface tension.

How do surfactants help with pesticides?

These components of a surfactant molecule help break water surface tension, allowing the pesticide to be more evenly dispersed on a surface and to reach its target. When water molecules come into contact with unlike substances, several things may happen. If the substances have a similar charge, the two forces repel each others. If they have different charges, the two forces will attract each other. If there are no charges, there will be no reaction. Water, when placed on most hydrophobic surfaces, will bead. This beading is caused by surface tension, and this surface tension can be reduced by the addition of surfactants (Figure 3).

What is adjuvant spray?

Adjuvant is a broad term describing any additive to a spray tank that enhances pesticide activity. Examples of adjuvants are surfactants, spreader stickers, crop oils, anti-foaming materials, buffering agents, and compatibility agents.

What are adjuvants in pesticides?

Overcoming pesticide water solubility issues was a monumental task in the 1950s and 60s. Most pesticides were not formulated to use water as their carrier. Today, however, the majority of pesticides are formulated to use water. The waxy surfaces of many insects, fungi, and plants make it difficult for most water-based spray solutions to penetrate their target. To overcome this barrier, adjuvants have been developed. Adjuvants can determine how well a pesticide works but, when used inappropriately, they can cause crop damage. Adjuvant is a broad term describing any additive to a spray tank that enhances pesticide activity. Examples of adjuvants are surfactants, spreader stickers, crop oils, anti-foaming materials, buffering agents, and compatibility agents. Surfactants are adjuvants that facilitate and accentuate the emulsifying, dispersing, spreading, wetting, or other surface modifying properties of liquids.

How do adjuvants work?

To understand how adjuvants work, it helps to understand how water works. Each water molecule is bipolar, meaning it has a negative and a positive charge, very much like a magnet. If you put several water molecules together, the positive and negative forces attract each other (Figure 1) .

How much reduction in pest control is needed when using fungicides?

When applying fungicides, insecticides or herbicides without a recommended adjuvant, 30 percent to 50 percent reduction in pest control can be expected. Adjuvants may cause damage to a plant if the wrong adjuvant is used or if it is used at too high a concentration. Using the correct adjuvant on a greenhouse crop is a critical decision.


Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension (or interfacial tension) between two liquids, between a gas and a liquid, or between a liquid and a solid. Surfactants may act as detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, or dispersants. The word “surfactant” is a blend of surface-active agent, coined c.  1950.
Agents that increase surface tension are “surface active” in the literal sense but are not called su…

Composition and structure

Surfactants are usually organic compounds that are amphiphilic, meaning they contain both hydrophobic groups (their tails) and hydrophilic groups (their heads). Therefore, a surfactant contains both a water-insoluble (or oil-soluble) component and a water-soluble component. Surfactants will diffuse in water and adsorb at interfacesbetween air and water or at the interface between oil and water, in the case where water is mixed with oil. The water-insoluble hydrophobi…

In biology

The human body produces diverse surfactants. Pulmonary surfactant is produced in the lungs in order to facilitate breathing by increasing total lung capacity, and lung compliance. In respiratory distress syndrome or RDS, surfactant replacement therapy helps patients have normal respiration by using pharmaceutical forms of the surfactants. One example of pharmaceutical pulmonary surfactants is Survanta (beractant) or its generic form Beraksurf produced by Abbvieand Tekzim…

Safety and environmental risks

Most anionic and non-ionic surfactants are non-toxic, having LD50 comparable to table salt. The toxicity of quaternary ammonium compounds, which are antibacterial and antifungal, varies. Dialkyldimethylammonium chlorides (DDAC, DSDMAC) used as fabric softeners have low LD50 (5 g/kg) and are essentially non-toxic, while the disinfectantalkylbenzyldimethylammonium chloride has an LD50 of 0.35 g/kg. Prolonged exposure to surfactants can irritate and damage the skin b…


The annual global production of surfactants was 13 million tonnes in 2008. In 2014, the world market for surfactants reached a volume of more than US $33 billion. Market researchers expect annual revenues to increase by 2.5% per year to around $40.4 billion until 2022. The commercially most significant type of surfactants is currently the anionic surfactant LAS, which is widely used in cleaners and detergents.


The “tails” of most surfactants are fairly similar, consisting of a hydrocarbon chain, which can be branched, linear, or aromatic. Fluorosurfactants have fluorocarbon chains. Siloxane surfactants have siloxane chains.
Many important surfactants include a polyether chain terminating in a highly polar anionic group. The polyether groups often comprise ethoxylated (polyethylene oxide-like) sequences inserted t…

See also

• Anti-fog – Chemicals that prevent the condensation of water as small droplets on a surface
• Cleavable detergent
• Emulsion – Mixture of two or more liquids that are generally immiscible
• Hydrotrope

External links

• Media related to Surfactants at Wikimedia Commons

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