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Organic and Bio-Surfactants – HITAS Product Development Update

Introduction

It is safe to say that 2021 has brought with it fantastic progress within the technical department at HITAS. One of the most exciting projects currently taking place is our extensive research into organic and bio-surfactants. It is becoming increasingly the case that many products that were once used routinely in our industry are being removed from the market – a trend that is not showing any signs of changing course. As a result, there is likely to be increased demand in the future for products that are manufactured from sustainable sources and/or have organic approval.

Previously, HITAS undertook comprehensive screening trial work to evaluate several promising raw materials for their performance as turf wetting agents. Although field work was often compromised during 2020 (for matters outside of our control!), good progress was made in terms of narrowing down which materials are likely to have true potential for use in our future products.

Technical Developments 

Due to the likely importance of these types of products in the future, HITAS has invested heavily in upgrading our technical facilities to support the project. One of our most exciting upgrades is a new piece of analytical equipment designed to measure the surface tension of surfactant solutions. Measurements of surface tension give a much more accurate measurement of ‘spreadability’, which allows us to predict how a product will help to distribute water (or any liquid product) within the soil or on a leaf surface. This also allows us to critically evaluate what the optimum application rates are for each surfactant, depending on how they are being used in the field.

With a range of different tests to evaluate surfactant performance, HITAS will be able to formulate products that are suited to a wide range of real-world scenarios. For example, a surfactant that performs well in terms of distributing water in soil may struggle to initially penetrate a very water repellent surface. These tests will allow us to have full confidence in the materials we take forward, as they will give us knowledge of how they are expected to perform in any given situation. Once the project is complete, HITAS hope to be able to offer sustainable and organic solutions to a whole range of water-related issues in the field.

2021 Field Trials

As ever, the field trials continue at HITAS! Although 2021 has often provided less than ideal conditions for evaluating wetting agents in the field, the recent hot and dry weather has given us a chance to gain some valuable data. Much of our initial screening work was carried out previously – however, bio-surfactants are a fast-moving and innovative area of research. As a result, we are investigating new raw materials all the time, and by Spring 2021 had a whole new range of candidates to test!

By early-June, we were able to run a successful field trial which showed us which materials from our ‘final shortlist’ should be taken through to formulation development work. In the trial, we were able to assess the effects of each raw material on soil moisture, turf quality, turf colour and symptoms of drought stress. By compiling all the data we have collected so far, we have now settled on a shortlist of 5-7 materials which we believe to have true potential for use in organic and bio-wetting agents. Once optimum application rates and uses have been finalised, HITAS hope to be launching a range of innovative new wetting agent products in the not-too-distant future…watch this space!

The Next Steps …

Formulation work will be undertaken with our final shortlist of materials to produce stable products that can be used practically in the field. We will also be investigating how these novel materials behave when mixed with other types of liquid products such as fertilisers and biostimulants. Our first bio-wetting agent has now been manufactured at a large-scale, and we are currently seeking approval for the product to be used in organic agriculture. We believe this will give fantastic additional credibility to our products and will allow them to be utilised in a wider range of growing scenarios. We hope to be providing updates on the progress of this in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned!

Organic and Bio-Surfactants – HITAS Product Development Update

Introduction

It is safe to say that 2021 has brought with it fantastic progress within the technical department at HITAS. One of the most exciting projects currently taking place is our extensive research into organic and bio-surfactants. It is becoming increasingly the case that many products that were once used routinely in our industry are being removed from the market – a trend that is not showing any signs of changing course. As a result, there is likely to be increased demand in the future for products that are manufactured from sustainable sources and/or have organic approval.

Previously, HITAS undertook comprehensive screening trial work to evaluate several promising raw materials for their performance as turf wetting agents. Although field work was often compromised during 2020 (for matters outside of our control!), good progress was made in terms of narrowing down which materials are likely to have true potential for use in our future products.

Technical Developments 

Due to the likely importance of these types of products in the future, HITAS has invested heavily in upgrading our technical facilities to support the project. One of our most exciting upgrades is a new piece of analytical equipment designed to measure the surface tension of surfactant solutions. Measurements of surface tension give a much more accurate measurement of ‘spreadability’, which allows us to predict how a product will help to distribute water (or any liquid product) within the soil or on a leaf surface. This also allows us to critically evaluate what the optimum application rates are for each surfactant, depending on how they are being used in the field.

With a range of different tests to evaluate surfactant performance, HITAS will be able to formulate products that are suited to a wide range of real-world scenarios. For example, a surfactant that performs well in terms of distributing water in soil may struggle to initially penetrate a very water repellent surface. These tests will allow us to have full confidence in the materials we take forward, as they will give us knowledge of how they are expected to perform in any given situation. Once the project is complete, HITAS hope to be able to offer sustainable and organic solutions to a whole range of water-related issues in the field.

2021 Field Trials

As ever, the field trials continue at HITAS! Although 2021 has often provided less than ideal conditions for evaluating wetting agents in the field, the recent hot and dry weather has given us a chance to gain some valuable data. Much of our initial screening work was carried out previously – however, bio-surfactants are a fast-moving and innovative area of research. As a result, we are investigating new raw materials all the time, and by Spring 2021 had a whole new range of candidates to test!

By early-June, we were able to run a successful field trial which showed us which materials from our ‘final shortlist’ should be taken through to formulation development work. In the trial, we were able to assess the effects of each raw material on soil moisture, turf quality, turf colour and symptoms of drought stress. By compiling all the data we have collected so far, we have now settled on a shortlist of 5-7 materials which we believe to have true potential for use in organic and bio-wetting agents. Once optimum application rates and uses have been finalised, HITAS hope to be launching a range of innovative new wetting agent products in the not-too-distant future…watch this space!

The Next Steps …

Formulation work will be undertaken with our final shortlist of materials to produce stable products that can be used practically in the field. We will also be investigating how these novel materials behave when mixed with other types of liquid products such as fertilisers and biostimulants. Our first bio-wetting agent has now been manufactured at a large-scale, and we are currently seeking approval for the product to be used in organic agriculture. We believe this will give fantastic additional credibility to our products and will allow them to be utilised in a wider range of growing scenarios. We hope to be providing updates on the progress of this in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned!

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