Surfactant for herbicides

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by RigglePLC, May 9, 2018.

  1. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,163

    I used surfactants for years.
    I am not so sure there is a difference after a comparison test last year.
    Do surfactants really help or not? Stickers? Wetting agents? Useful before rain? Useful on waxy weeds?
    If surfactants improve the effects of herbicides, why are they not included in Trimec? Or in other brand products automatically?
    If you read the label--how do you tell if a surfactant is included?
    Does the T-Zone label mention surfactant?

    Just looked at the label.
    It says essentially that surfactants or spray additives "can cause damage to the leaf tissue of the turfgrass" .
    Last edited: May 9, 2018
  2. Young Bros

    Young Bros LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 737

    We have always used a combo product because I can notice the drift reducer in it works. It also has an acidifier to lower the high PH of the city water. I add it to T-Zone too. Not sure if it's worth it or not. Comparing to the service calls we had at other companies that don't use it, I would say it does work.
  3. FdLLawnMan

    FdLLawnMan LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,323

    I only use a surfactant if it is going to rain within an hour or two. I really do think they help in those situations.
    BrandonV likes this.
  4. rlitman

    rlitman LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,059

    I'm betting that there's already a surfactant in there.

    You could try to measure the surface tension, and compare against some calibrated knowns. Using a known surfactant concentration in tap water, and just tap water, you can count the number of drops that you can place on top of a penny before it spills, and see where your mix falls along those lines.
    ETM likes this.
  5. Delmarva Keith

    Delmarva Keith LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 511

    I think whether it helps depends on the herbicide and the weed and even time of year (and likely oher factors too). Easy answer — follow the label. If the label doesn’t say or isn’t clear, call the manufacturer and ask. They test and they know generally what is most effective for the optimal effect under all conditions.
    rlitman likes this.
  6. Tidewater Greenworks

    Tidewater Greenworks LawnSite Member
    Messages: 212

    I use a surfactant if the label recommends one, otherwise not. If the label doesn't specify MSO then I use dollar store Dawn. Usually the herbicides mentioning a surfactant on their label will be targeting weeds with high surface tension with contact MoAs. MSO helps penetrate waxy weeds. Dawn is less than $1/A. MSO is not as cheap, but it doesn't take many unpaid service calls or resprays with $200+/A chems to make it worthwhile.
    Delmarva Keith likes this.
  7. Delmarva Keith

    Delmarva Keith LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 511

    Exactly — expensive chem with wrong surfactant or ill-advised surfactant could be expensively ineffective or even worse, very expensive scorch of the desired plants / turf. Not good :cry:
  8. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,163

    I am testing a 3-way with and without a surfactant this week. Stay tuned.

    Some years in the past, I used liquid laundry detergent as a surfactant in my fertilizer and weed control solution in the blanket broadleaf fall treatments. I am not cheap, but a three-way, urea, potash, and detergent was remarkably low in cost per thousand sqft. Smelled nice, too.
    I think I remember, it cost about $6 for 200 ounces at a dollar store.
    Does it increase the percentage of weed kill?
    Did I waste my 6 dollars?
    Maybe I can test this in the next few weeks.
    oqueoque, rlitman, ETM and 1 other person like this.
  9. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,163

  10. Delmarva Keith

    Delmarva Keith LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 511

    A test is always the best. If you can find time to do it, I’m interested to see what you discover.

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