BASF’s Verbund in Agriculture
It doesn’t have a direct English translation, but the concept of the Verbund is central to BASF’s approach to business. The Verbund emphasizes the intelligent interlinking of research and development, production plants, energy flows and infrastructure. The Agricultural Solutions division is no exception and has benefitted greatly from the Verbund’s many possibilities.
The Verbund seeks to take advantage of the diverse nature of BASF’s chemical activities by combining all three realms of chemical technology. The first realm, chemical knowledge, involves the synthesis of novel molecules. The second realm is physical chemistry, such as colloidal science, and looks at how tiny particles disperse in a liquid or solid. The final realm is process engineering technology that allows crop protection products to be made on an industrial scale. Combining all three disciplines in-house makes us unique and has been a major factor in the success of our agricultural business.
By incorporating knowledge and expertise from all areas of BASF’s business, we have been able to develop solutions for agriculture by building on chemistry originally designed for other areas and purposes. Some of these areas include construction chemicals, vitamins, water purification, super-absorbing polymers, paper chemistry and oil production. Such close collaboration and dialogue helps our scientists develop unique research tools and products that, in turn, drive innovation and research in other areas. The spiral just keeps on growing.
BASF’s formulation experts took polymer and gel technologies, which were originally developed for use in diapers and vitamin coatings, and applied them to crop protection formulations, producing what is known as a capsule suspension.
Capsule suspensions are among the next generation of formulations, which allow active ingredients to be released gradually over a prolonged period of time. At the moment, BASF scientists are investigating trigger-release capsule formulations, which will only release their load of active ingredient in response to a cue such as humidity or acidity. For the grower, this would mean a crop protection product that only needs to be applied once in the life-cycle of a plant because the active ingredient would be released only when the conditions are just right.