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Technology Innovation

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Innovation and technological advancements and successes involve the talent and efforts of employees across the company and are truly a result of successful cross-functional teamwork.

On the Forefront of Precision Agriculture with SIMPAS™ and Ultimus™
Now a multi-billion dollar initiative, precision agriculture has become the central focus for technology development in the industry. Through precision agriculture, growers, equipment manufacturers and innovators attempt to harness data and related technologies – whether through GPS mapping, yield recordation or the tracking of crop inputs – to make planting, treating and harvesting crops more efficient, while improving yield. In contrast with older methods of planting and treating, which were largely mechanical applications of single rate inputs, such as seeds, fertilizer and insecticide, precision application technology informs the grower of where he or she is on a specific field, the history of crop planting and yield on that field, and what and where to apply inputs on that field with precision. In a sense, it is a kind of smart farming through technology.

AMVAC is working at the forefront of precision agriculture through its innovative SIMPAS™ system that will enable users to apply multiple crop inputs, whether liquid or granule, in multiple rows, at variable rates, as per an agronomist’s prescription, automatically. This system marries input history, yield history and GPS mapping with crop planting and serves as a way to place the right product in the right places in the right amounts, whether they be insecticides, fertilizer, biologicals or micronutrients.

We have taken the technology even further with ultra-low rate meters, enabling growers to use as little as one ounce of liquid input per acre and to measure that use with unprecedented accuracy. In addition, we have developed a pulsing mechanism that releases, for example, a liquid fertilizer, in synchronization with the seed. By spraying material only with the seed and stopping the flow in between seeds, this mechanism leads to an extremely efficient, lower rate application. Finally, the company has advanced this technology to include the Ultimus system, by which, through RFID technology, we are able to track each SmartCartridge container from point of manufacture to the field, then to track how much material is used by the grower, then track how much material is left in each container. This way, the grower knows what he or she has used and can even return partially used containers for a credit. To our knowledge, SIMPAS and Ultimus are the most comprehensive and advanced technologies within the realm of precision agriculture.

Product Development Investments with an Eye toward Sustainability
AMVAC has made several investments to create, improve, and market more sustainable solutions through in-house Product Development, public-private research partnerships, joint ventures and investments in innovative research-based organizations. In 2018, we devoted approximately 15% of our product development budget to biological and biorational products. AMVAC is currently developing our long-term biological strategy to provide a solid direction, departmental alignment, and commitment of resources for sustainable product solutions.

In 2016, AMVAC Netherlands BV invested in Belgian-based Biological Products for Agriculture (Bi-PA), to develop and commercialize crop protection and animal health products based on microbial organisms or plant extracts. As a shareholder in Bi-PA, AMVAC is developing a plant extract product to control various insect pests in a range of crops as well as a micro-organisms to control diseases
in fruit and nut crops.

ENVANCE™ Technologies, AMVAC’s joint venture with TyraTech, Inc., has brought several natural products to market with patented technology that control insect pests by inhibition of insect-specific cell receptors, with no detrimental effects on humans or animals. Several of these products are successfully marketed through The Home Depot® and other retailers. AMVAC’s ProVerde™ line of botanical oil-based insecticides, developed by TyraTech, are sold to control crawling and flying insects in homes, schools, restaurants, hospitals and offices.

Ecozin® Plus is botanical insecticide approved for organic farming to control certain insects and pests in many food and fiber crops. Its active ingredient, azadirachtin, is derived from the oil found in neem tree seeds. Use of neem oil has been passed down through many generations for medicinal, cosmetic, and pesticidal purposes. AMVAC registered its first azadirachtin product in 1999; registered Ecozin in 2008; and has seen an increased interest in Ecozin Plus over the past 10 years for nematode control in organic production of strawberries, grapes, tomatoes and other high value crops. Currently, AMVAC’s product development efforts include combining azadirachtin with conventional products, resulting in better pest control as well as a reduction in amounts of more traditional chemistry applied.

Several potential biological products are in various stages by AMVAC and our partner organizations: AMVAC is funding cutting edge research at several Universities such as Iowa State and Cornell to develop biological and biorational products. AMVAC teams are working closely with companies such as Biotor Labs in Central America to determine the value and broad applicability of microbial technologies to deliver more sustainable crop solutions to farmers in the US and around the world. The Product Development Team has developed a number or proprietary assays to evaluate other microbial sources for commercialization in a range of fungicides and insecticides.

A new area of study is being investigated for additional investment around biostimulation of key crops to enhance yields and improving cropping efficiency, hence improving sustainability.

A Success Story: HC Products
Our Technology, Product Development, and Commercial Teams have worked to bring to market high concentration formulations of AMVAC’s granular soil insecticides, AZTEC® HC and SmartChoice® HC. Higher concentrations result in a reduced number of product containers compared to more dilute concentrations of the same products, which in turn results in a reduction of container quantity, handling of containers and transportation from our production facilities to distributors and to growers. And because the products are delivered in our patented SmartBox® closed delivery system and returnable containers, it also means reduction in the quantity of spent SmartBoxes returned by growers to distributors and back to our formulation facility to be cleaned and refilled. Concentrated formulations can save as much as 50% over the original formulations.