Creating a New Herbicide Formulation at Corteva Agriscience

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Corteva Agriscience Formulation Application Scientist Brandon Downer discusses some of the research and development that goes into a new herbicide formulation.

When you use herbicide solutions from Corteva Agriscience, you’re getting more than just weed control. A significant amount of time, effort and resources go into the process to create a new formulation from Corteva.

Formulation application scientist Brandon Downer provides a look at that process in an effort to show not only what goes into making a new formulation but also how Corteva Agriscience products and services stack up against generic herbicides.

Corteva Globally

First off, let’s take a look at Corteva on a global scale:

  • We have locations in more than 140 countries.
    • Those locations include more than 100 production and manufacturing facilities and more than 150 research and development facilities.
    • The U.S. headquarters is based in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • More than 21,000 people work for Corteva worldwide.
  • As a company, Corteva has received roughly 12,000 patents for products using more than 65 active ingredients.


New Formulation Development

Not all those 21,000 people will work on a new formulation, but those of us who do, do not take the process lightly. A brand-new herbicide, from discovery to launch, will:

  • Take about 10 years to develop
  • Require a team that includes hundreds of people


Not every product launched is entirely new. Some are improved formulations of current products. However, those still require about two to five years to develop.

New Formulation Testing

When we say a “formulation,” what we mean is a way to deliver an active ingredient to a specific target site in a usable form. This typically refers to a discrete composition containing an active ingredient or to several active ingredients and other coformulants. These make up about 40% of the formulation. The remaining 60% includes other ingredients, such as diluents/solvents, emulsifiers, stabilizers and performance aids.

Once we know a herbicide will work to control weeds, we run it through dozens of tests to ensure you’ll be able to use it safely and relatively easily. If the product fails at any point during the testing process, it’s sent back for reformulation and then we start the tests all over again.

The goal is to make sure that any failures happen in the lab and not when you’re using the product in the field.


Here are just a few of those tests:

  • Storage — One of our herbicides could be used in all kinds of climates. We need to know it can withstand the cold of a North Dakota winter and the heat of a Mississippi summer. So, we’ll store it in a multitude of temperatures and packages to ensure our products can withstand this variation.
  • Material compatibility — A herbicide needs to come in contact with many different materials — from plastics to metals — in applicators, pumps and filters. We perform tests with all these materials to determine if the solution will affect them.
  • Tank-mixing — A big frustration in the field is when tank-mix partners are incompatible. We don’t want you to experience that frustration. So, we perform hundreds of jar tests to examine the compatibility of the formulation with possible tank-mix partners.


These are just a few of the dozens of tests a new herbicide undergoes at Corteva. And remember: If, at any point, the new product fails one of these tests, it goes back for reformulation.

Once the formulation is released, our job isn’t over. If the unexpected happens with a product, we will be there to make it right. That’s why we always recommend reaching out to your local retailer who can work directly with your Corteva Agriscience territory manager to figure out the issue.

It’s important to note, that by choosing Corteva Agriscience products, you’re getting value that goes beyond weed control. You’re getting the support of a company that is invested in making sure your needs are met — something you don’t necessarily get with generic products.

Corteva strives to provide good customer service and resources to help you in the field. Be sure to stay up to date on our latest corn herbicides product information on Corn Herbicides HQ.


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