Before an agricultural chemical formulation product can go to market, it has to go through a series of intensive tests and trials. A chemist has to evaluate the formulation for physical, chemical, and biological performance to make sure it does what it is supposed to do while quality and safety standards are maintained.
However, this process is not just done at the end of formulation development. Rather, steps are taken throughout the entire development process to maximize characteristics like purity, compatibility, stability, shelf life, and performance properties.
Changes may have to be made to the formulation several times before the final product is ready for market. Here is a look at the process of testing and trialing a new chemical formulation and how a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) can help.
What Are the Steps of Testing & Trialing a Chemical Formulation?
Once you know what attributes you’re looking for in your product, a formulation chemist will be able to start selecting ingredients for your product. They will choose materials that have the best chance of success in developing the desired characteristics for your product.
The first step of testing a chemical formulation happens in the lab. That’s where the formulation chemist will combine a variety of ingredients in a variety of ways. They will mix the various materials together in sequence and parallel, as well as vary the percentages. The formulation chemist will end up with 10-20 candidate formulations and select the two or three candidates that best match the desired physical and chemical characteristics.
In the next step, the candidate formulations are taken to the greenhouse to see how they perform from a biological standpoint. For example, are they doing what an insecticide, fungicide, or herbicide is supposed to do?
Through characteristic and performance testing, the pool of candidate formulations will be narrowed down to one optimum choice for further testing and trialing.
Small Plot Trials
Once the top candidate is chosen by the lab and greenhouse test and trials results, the chemist, working with agronomists, takes the formulation to small plots or random block replicated field trials. These tests evaluate whether the candidate formulation achieves the desired effect—whether it’s against fungus, insects, or weeds—on a larger scale. These trials may be repeated on a variety of crops, pests, and soils as well as under various growing conditions.
Large Plot Trials
Assuming success in the lab, greenhouse, and small plot trials, the candidate formulation progresses to large plot trials or multiple acre trials in a number of locations. At this stage, side-by-side comparisons are often performed against products that are already in the marketplace. This helps determine whether the candidate performs better or worse than competitive products. It also reveals and may quantify benefits, advantages, and features the formulation may have that existing products do not.
The last step of trialing a chemical formulation before a commercial launch is grower trials and demonstrations. This is where growers and retailers try out the candidate formulation for themselves. They typically will do their own field tests and trials and compare the candidate formulation to products that they are already recommending and using.
What Happens If There Is a Problem with a Chemical Formulation?
At any point in the process—from the lab-based trials to the grower demonstration trials—an issue could arise, be it chemical, physical, or biological.
The formulation may not have to be walked back to square one, but the chemist will likely have to regress a step or two to address the issue. They may even have to revisit the pool of formulation finalists that the optimum candidate was chosen from.
The purpose of testing and trialing a chemical formulation is to make sure the product performs as desired. If everything goes according to plan, a new agricultural tool is launched, and value is created.
How Can a CDMO Help with Testing and Trialing a Chemical Formulation?
Because of the need for surety, the testing and trialing process can take months to years to accomplish. However, when you consider all of the chemical, physical, and biological factors involved in formulating a chemical product, the timeline makes sense.
A CDMO is equipped with extensive knowledge in formulating an agricultural chemical product and can help deliver results in a functional, stable, and usable form.
The Process of Testing and Trialing a Chemical Formulation
Now you know the process of testing and trialing an agricultural chemical formulation.
There are several stages of rigorous evaluation and analysis, including:
- Lab-based trials
- Greenhouse trials
- Small plot trials
- Large plot trials
- Retailer/grower trials and demos
Success or failure at each one of these steps determines whether the candidate formulation has the required characteristics and is producing the desired outcome.
A CDMO like CJB Applied Technologies has decades of experience in contract development services, scale-up/pilot plant production, and consulting.
Contact us today to discuss your formulation idea, and let us help you develop an effective product!