09.03.2020

Silicone improves food crop yields, saves water and energy resources

Silicone antifoams are reducing waste in maximising food crop production and saving precious water and energy resources in industrial processes. Used in agrochemicals, water treatment and plastic recycling industries, silicone antifoams contribute greatly to circular economy initiatives by reducing waste.

To meet the agricultural challenges to feed the world, agrochemicals protect and enhance crop yields. The formulations often produce foam that hinders the efficiency and application on plants. Silcolapse™ silicone foam control agents and Bluesil™ silicone surfactants enhance manufacturing processes and improves productivity by facilitating spreading and wetting performances on the plant.

All ingredients for crop and plant treatments are safe for people and the environment and comply with national and international regulatory standards. The role of the silicone components is to “grow more with less”.

They aid to reduce:

  • the dose of active ingredients (nonsilicone products)
  • water consumption for the crop spraying operation
  • hazardous waste of residual crop spraying formulation

The ingredients are used in a wide range of agrochemical applications and at all stages in the manufacturing and growing process, as processing aids and formulation ingredients, and in can or tank mix adjuvants. Diminishing the dose of the active ingredients reduces pollution in crops and the mobility of actives in the soil. This increases farmers’ income through higher crop yields and contributes to the slowing down of soil desertification and salinisation.

Laboratory, greenhouse and field trials carried out in Hunan province in China and in Norway, Sweden and Russia have proved the effectiveness of the foam control agents in improving crop quality and yield and reducing environmental impact. In addition to the series of products dedicated to agrochemicals, there are many solutions for application in water treatment and plastic recycling. These contribute to circular economy initiatives by offering many of the same benefits as waste reduction.

Civic and industrial companies, environmental service companies and wastewater treatment plants processes create foam. The water-based solutions contain non-toxic, chemically inert silicones that are environmentally friendly with very low COD. Applied at very low doses, they are easy to use and provide durable efficiency, enhancing process reliability for the water treatment plant and ultimately reducing water waste and energy consumption.

This article was first published in Elkem's sustainability report 2019