Many Advantages of Bio-Based Solvents in Herbicides

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Today’s herbicides are powered by innovative, advanced active ingredients. The active ingredients developed at Corteva Agriscience are designed to offer many advantages, from the way they control weeds to how quickly they break down in the environment. Active ingredients, however, are only part of what goes into a formulated herbicide product. Scientists at Corteva are also working on innovations for other ingredients in herbicide formulations to develop products that are even more effective and sustainable.

To create herbicide products, active ingredients are combined with other components that give herbicides certain attributes. These are called inert ingredients because while they don’t work directly to control weeds, they do improve the herbicide formulation for factors like better mixability or longer shelf life. Active and inert ingredients are combined in specific ways to create formulated products farmers buy to use in the field. One of the most common types of formulations for herbicides is an emulsifiable concentrate, or EC. ECs are oily, liquid formulations that contain dissolved herbicide active ingredients. ECs help ensure that when herbicide concentrates are mixed with water, the herbicide is evenly dispersed for more reliable performance. ECs also improve storage stability, make products more convenient for farmers to use and can help more of the active ingredient reach targeted weeds.1

Petroleum-based ECs

Traditionally, ECs have been made with distilled products from crude oil. Petroleum-based ECs are very affordable and effective, but they have some drawbacks. Petroleum-based ECs have an odor. This is unpleasant for farmers and can create negative perceptions among consumers who may assume a product with a strong smell is not something they want sprayed on crops. Petroleum-based ECs can also soften hoses, gaskets and other rubber spray equipment components.2 Also, petroleum-based distillates require the use of non-renewable resources.

NeoEC™ formulations

Corteva Agriscience has developed a different option for herbicide ECs that offers the same application and stability advantages of traditional petroleum-based ECs with a more environmentally favorable profile. NeoEC™ formulations from Corteva, including those used with Rinskor™ active, are composed primarily of plant-based solvents. All NeoEC formulations include less than 10 percent petroleum distillates, and some formulations have no petroleum distillates at all. These plant-based components offer a number of advantages:

  • Low VOC: Plant-based NeoEC formulations meet regulatory requirements for low volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. VOCs are compounds that can be emitted as gases, and they’re often found in solvents, paints and other industrial products. Low VOC improves product application and storage.
  • Minimized environmental impact: Because these formulations are mostly plant-based, NeoECs break down into more environmentally favorable components.
  • Renewable ingredients: The plant-based components of NeoEC formulations are grown, making them renewable.
  • Reliable performance: NeoECs offer the same levels of product dilution and dispersion farmers expect.
  • Better product absorption: In the case of NeoEC formulations containing Rinskor, the plant-based ingredients help the herbicide better absorb into the outer surface of the weed.
  • Less active ingredient: Better plant absorption means less active ingredient is needed to help make the herbicide effective. For an ingredient such as Rinskor, this quality further enhances its low use-rate profile.
  • No tank-mix adjuvant required: With NeoEC formulations, the tank-mix adjuvant is built in. That’s convenient for farmers and means one less product to handle and purchase.

The next generation of herbicide formulation

NeoEC™ formulations give farmers the weed control they need with a more favorable environmental profile. When active ingredients such as Rinskor™ active can be used in NeoEC formulations, the overall sustainability of crop protection solutions—and their efficacy—can be elevated. The sustainable qualities of NeoEC formulations make it easier for farmers to choose solutions that are right for their crops, their business and the environment.

active ingredient diagram
active ingredient diagram

In an EC formulation, the active ingredient is dissolved in an oil-based solvent. When mixed with water, the herbicide distributes evenly in the tank for reliable application. In traditional EC formulations, this solvent is petroleum-based, made from crude oil distillates. NeoEC herbicide formulations from Corteva are primarily comprised of plant-based ingredients and do not require tank-mix adjuvants.

Learn more about Rinskor active


1 Seid Mahdi Jafari et al., “Chapter 12 - Application of Nanoemulsions in Formulation of Pesticides,” in Nanoemulsions: Formulation, Applications, and Characterization (Elsevier, 2018), pp. 379-413.

2 L Townsend, “Pesticide Formulations,” Pesticide formulations - Kentucky pesticide safety education (University of Kentucky Dept. of Entomology, 2017), Entomology/PSEP/3formulations.html.