In the agricultural marketplace, farmers can find themselves in the position of being both a supplier and a consumer of their given commodity. Farmers encounter this situation a lot as soybeans are a versatile crop. The Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) and soybean checkoff has had great success in replacing petroleum-based products for a variety of uses.
Recently, OSC partnered with researchers from Battelle to determine the feasibility of using soybean oil as a carrier, or solvent, for agrochemical formulations. If successful, commercial formulations could replace a petroleum-based carrier for use in any one of the popular herbicide, fungicide, or insecticide used in Ohio.
Vegetables oils, largely soybean oil, have already experienced growth as adjuvants in crop protection to help formulations work more effectively by sticking to the plant and improving penetration of active ingredients through the plant’s barrier. This project demonstrates the feasibility of soybean oil crop by taking advantage of recent advances in oil dispersion.
Oil dispersion methods allow active ingredients to be suspended in oil, rather than needing to be distributed as granules or as a water based solution; and utilizing soybean oil provides a built in adjuvant.
“The chemical composition of soybean oil based formulations has the potential to increase the adhesion of solid pesticides on the target surface and would significantly reduce the amount of active ingredients washed or carried away during irrigation or rainfall,” said Dr. Ram Lalgudi, Scientist at Battelle Columbus.
The benefits of this approach would provide an environmentally friendly and safer alternative to current agrochemical carriers. Ohio’s soybean farmers could potentially benefit as both a consumer of an agrochemical formulations utilizing this soy-based carrier and the increased demand for soybeans for producing this soy-based carrier.
One bushel of soybeans can yield around 4.6 liters of oil. If soybean oil is adopted for use in just one of Ohio’s top herbicides it would take more than 64,000 bushels to supply enough oil for one year of application.
“This was a successful project where we found that soybean oil can indeed be used as a green carrier for agrochemical formulations,” said Dr. Roger Kemp from Battelle’s United Kingdom formulation development laboratory. Dr. Kemp recently presented the work at the 2015 American Chemical Society conference in Boston, MA.
Researchers at Battelle found soybean oil can be feasibly incorporated into agrochemical formulations as either an emulsifiable concentrate or through oil dispersion.
Next steps for the work involve testing soybean oil-based formulation under longer storage durations and evaluating the economic viability of new products.