THE LOSS of a popular ‘wetter’ for adding to herbicide sprays, may mean that farmers will need to boost the performance of glyphosate in hard water areas.

This follows the ban on tallow amine formulations of the popular weed killer, pointed out Hall Charlton, an agronomist with ProCam.

He said that many use crop destruction before planting to performs several functions – including controlling weeds and removing the ‘green bridge’ of living plants that can carry diseases and pests from one crop to the next. However, the withdrawal of ethoxylated tallow amine from glyphosate formulations – previously included as a leaf wetting agent to enhance activity – could see reduced performance with some treatments this year, he argued.

In hard water areas, this could also further compromise the level of herbicide performance. He said: “Hard water, whether from the mains or a borehole, is a key factor that can hold back glyphosate performance. The calcium in hard water binds to some of the glyphosate, rendering it less active.

“You should know if you have hard water. But even so, it could be worth getting water tested. If hard water is a concern, it may be worth adding a water conditioner to the spray tank. These treatments effectively mop up the calcium so it can’t bind to the glyphosate, making more of it biologically available.”

That said, there are various types of water conditioners available, says Mr Charlton, so it’s worth checking you are using the correct type. Some include buffering agents to adjust the pH of the spray in favour of improved uptake by the leaf, he pointed out.