Difference between a surfactant and a spreader/sticker

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by CL&T, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. CL&T

    CL&T LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 493

    I get into this debate every once and a while with fellow applicators. Some say there is no difference, I say there is but I've been known to be wrong. A surfactant is like a soap, matter of fact I've heard recommendations for non-ionic dish washing liquids like Joy being used. When added to the tank mix it breaks down the surface tension of the spray liquid when applied to foliage so it coats the foliage completely, not just bead up. A spreader/sticker is a surfactant with another ingredient such as an oil that helps the spray stay on the foliage after it is coated.
  2. PR Fect

    PR Fect LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,076

    Sounds right to me. But why do I here that MSO better than Lesco spreader/sticker or any other.
  3. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,135

    The difference between a surfactant and a spreader sticker is how it affects the active ingredient. A surfactant makes the active ingredient spread more evenly across the leaf. A spreader sticker is usually a resin based material that will mix with the active ingredient and bind it to the surface of the leaf. In binding it to the leaf surface, it also interferes with the action of products that are supposed to be systemic. The only time I ever use spreader sticker type products are with contact fungicides, insecticides and miticides as are used on ornamentals/nursery crops. Never for turf herbicides.

    MSO has the property of solublizing many active ingredients, then carrying them through the leaf. This is especially good for the sulfonylurea herbicides, which are not very soluble in water and not soluble in solvents. Examples of sulfonylurea herbicides are Certainty, Celsius, Corsair, Mansion, Revolver, and Sedgehammer.
    sjessen, ed2hess and On a call like this.
  4. On a call

    On a call LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,419

    There is a difference and you nailed it.
  5. rowwright

    rowwright LawnSite Member
    Messages: 63

    Anyone ever used Microyl?
  6. rlitman

    rlitman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,763

    I think that some of the confusion is that a surfactant is a technical term that has a clear chemical definition, whereas a sticker/spreader is not.

    Moreover, a chemical marketed as a sticker/spreader may (and probably does) include surfactants.

    Dawn dishwashing detergent (and detergents in general) are surfactants. They act by reducing the surface tension of the solution, which reduces the contact angle of drops on a surface. This is particularly useful on hydrophobic surfaces.

    One example of a sticker would be xanthan gum. This is something that most commercial salsa manufacturers use. Without it, salsa would just run off your chip.
  7. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,808

    I think Greendoctor has it right (again). A sticker is designed to stick a fungicide to the leaf surface in a thin, but complete, covering. Insecticides, likewise. Useful mainly for contact fungicides.

    My opinion: do not try to use a surfactant nor a spreader-sticker to improve your chances in case of rain. Let the salesman prove that this works--he can't. At least, I don't think so.

    Be skeptical of claims that surfactants improve weed control. By what percentage? On what weed? At what university was the research conducted?
    greendoctor and rlitman like this.
  8. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,162

    So, would you classify MSO as a trans-locator or plant penatrant?
  9. whoopassonthebluegrass

    whoopassonthebluegrass LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,305

    Riggle, I rely heavily on LI-700 and copycat adjuvants. More than anything because of its drift-reduction (which is verifiable). My properties are smaller and heavily landscaped, and I nuked a flower or two year one with my Z-spray due to drift.

    I also believe the acidic nature of it in our alkaline soils causes the plants to suck it in faster... but I have no real proof...

    Maybe this year I'll try to find some weeds to spray with and without, and ten wash it off after 10 or 15 minutes and see what comes of it...
  10. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,135

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