Sponsored Content by Quali-ProThe first article in a three-part series:

Solutions for LCOs

Innovation is at the heart of what the team at Quali-Pro does each day, whether it’s in the lab at its headquarters or out on a field test at a university.

One of the team members helping to push that initiative forward is Ian Rodriguez, Ph.D., technical service manager, Quali-Pro. He attributes the company’s ability to bring effective chemistries to the industry, in part, to its size.

Ian Rodriguez, Ph.D.

Ian Rodriguez, Ph.D.

“Being a smaller company allows us to be a little more agile and move a little faster,” says Rodriguez, who heads up product development and has more than 20 years of experience in turf and ornamentals. “That agility allows us to target more problems that might be more specific to lawn care operators (LCOs), instead of golf, or vice versa.”

Although Quali-Pro might be smaller on its own, it’s also a “hybrid company,” meaning it manufactures both post-patent and proprietary chemistries, supported by its multinational parent company Adama.

“Being a hybrid company allows us to provide a very wide range of products to our customers. Those products aren’t just limited to post-patent chemistry,” Rodriguez says. “Our parent company, Adama, is the sixth largest agricultural chemical company in the world. This gives us access to additional, innovative active ingredients and expertise that we can potentially bring to the turfgrass and landscaping industries.”

Combining chemistries

Quali-Pro uses those resources to create products that will make the job easier for operators, while still providing quality results.

“Toward the LCOs, one of the things we look to do is simplify our products,” Rodriguez explains. “We look for combinations that will make things easier for the users in the field.”

Quali-Pro innovation quote (Graphic: LM Staff)Examples of that are Quali-Pro’s Fahrenheit and Negate 37WG herbicides, which both combine two different active ingredients (AIs) into one product. Combination chemistry products save users from having to mix the chemicals themselves and also keep them from needing multiple products to achieve the same results.

Fahrenheit contains dicamba and metsulfuron-methyl, and Negate contains rimsulfuron and metsulfuron-methyl — and both provide broadleaf weed control on warm-season turf. They are formulated so one bottle covers exactly an acre, eliminating the need to measure out on the jobsite.

“Not having to do math in your head when it’s 100 degrees takes a mistake point out of the equation,” says Rodriguez, who previously was an end user himself.

Though combination products aren’t a new chemistry, since both AIs exist on their own, Rodriguez says the innovation comes from creating something that wasn’t available before.

“A lot of herbicide combinations on the market bring a different efficacy to the table, compared to other single-AI herbicides,” he says. “We’re trying to do that and be better on the price for the end user, as well.”

Some combination products can have a synergistic activity, meaning they provide control at lower than normal rates. All of those factors lead to cost and time savings for LCOs, as well as help to make their applications more effective.

“We look for combinations that show synergy. You might not need as high of a rate when you mix it with one or two more products,” Rodriguez says. “You can use less of a particular chemical, which helps if you’re limited to pounds per acre.”

Innovation happens in Quali-Pro’s lab. (Photo: CSI.)

Put to the test

Before Quali-Pro brings any of its combination chemistry products to the market, it first puts them through rigorous tests in its formulation lab and out in the field.

Quali-Pro innovation quote (Graphic: LM Staff)The company’s product development team has years of industry experience and includes several additional Ph.Ds. Although they may work on different product lines, Rodriguez says they all meet together monthly to share data reviews, project updates and project input.

Through all of that, the research team looks for ways to formulate products for improved efficacy, uniformity and storage life, along with ensuring the combinations are stable.

“With our new products, we’re looking to fill a niche or get some sort of advantage over run-of-the-mill products,” Rodriguez says.

In addition to the lab at its headquarters, Quali-Pro’s team also conducts research work with universities to test its combination chemistry products. To find the best universities for the tests, the team looks for facilities currently studying the weeds, diseases or insects they are trying to control.

Some trials are be designed specifically to test potential new products and applications being considered, including Quali-Pro entries in larger, field-day type trials like the Poa trials run annually at the University of Tennessee.

Quali-Pro Negate 37WG and Fahrenheit herbicides each combine two different AIs into one product. (Photo: Quali-Pro)

Quali-Pro Negate 37WG and Fahrenheit herbicides each combine two different AIs into one product. (Photo: CSI)

During the field trials, they place products to see if the combination outperforms the standard product and gain a better understanding of existing AIs. For example, they might test the AIs to see how they perform together and also how they work on a given weed they haven’t been tested on before.

“Getting a better understanding of how the AIs work together allows us to expand the labels of existing products,” Rodriguez says.

“Research isn’t just limited to universities. Sometimes a private research company may be able to fill a particular need or provide a unique setting,” he adds. “The independent researchers are very well qualified, so the end results are just as reliable.”

What’s next?

The Quali-Pro research team is always testing out new chemistries, and the ideas for those products come from a variety of sources.

For example, they might hear from a customer who has had success managing a weed that wasn’t listed on the label. Or, they could collect positive results from one of their field tests. Sometimes, an idea for a new product comes from finding a solution to a problem, like creating a formulation that stores well at colder temperatures.

Quali-Pro innovation quote (Graphic: LM Staff)From there, the research team gathers information about the various chemicals and works to create an appropriate combination. They also consider the load per acre for the end product, as well as the product from a regulatory standpoint. If the product passes the tests, they will begin to work on a business plan for it.

Rodriguez says they have several projects in the pipeline that will potentially be finished in the next few years, including insecticides, herbicides and fungicides.

“Ideas for innovations come in, and we then go to the formulation team and explain what we’re looking for — and they go to work,” Rodriguez says.

Stay tuned this summer for the second installment of our three-part series, “Innovative, Effective and Supported: Solutions for LCOs.”

This page was produced by North Coast Media’s content marketing staff in collaboration with Quali-Pro. NCM Content Marketing connects marketers to audiences and delivers industry trends, business tips and product information. The Landscape Management editorial staff did not create this content.

Header photo: LM Staff; Graphics: LM Staff