Agriculture is one of Brazil’s most important industries and, whilst it was once best known for its sugarcane production, it is now a large exporter of coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, cocoa and beef to the rest of the world. To best serve its customers in the agricultural industry in Brazil, and throughout Latin America, Milliken has opened its most advanced laboratory to date in Sao Paolo, dedicated to localized application and performance testing for seed coatings, fertilizers and crop protection.
One key area of research and testing will be around colorants and polymers, as Milliken’s Marcos Chavez, sales manager for Latin America explained, "Colorants are used broadly in the agricultural sector and there are some with poor toxicological profiles. As Milliken’s mission is to develop products that are better for both people and the environment, we know we can offer unique solutions to address this.”
New ways of looking at colorants and seed treatments
One area of research will include the use of colored polymers in seed treatment. For example, Milliken’s Treating Solutions™ advanced seed treatment technology is designed to offer the best performance, efficiency, and ease of application for most seed types. It includes a range of environmentally conscious color, polymer and formulated colored polymer solutions.
First, Treating Solutions seed colorants are water-based color systems specially formulated to impart an artificial color to seed treated with active ingredients. They are designed to offer the best performance, efficiency and ease of application for most seed types, regardless of size, shape, or texture.
Second, Treating Solutions also includes seed enhancement polymers, water-based systems designed to improve flow in conditioning facilities and control dust-off during and after the treating process. They also enrich the appearance of seeds and are adaptable to most makes of seed coating and treating equipment, including batch and continuous systems.
Bringing the two together, Treating Solutions colored polymers consist of a formulation of colorant and polymer. They improve flowability, and plantability, and reduce inert material dust-off during handling. The shine and appearance of treated seeds are also enhanced. These colored polymers offer a single treatment package for seeds, running one polymer and one colorant rate. They help to improve the efficiency of your processes by eliminating measuring and blending as well as reducing slurry space.
To be active in the local agricultural sector Milliken understood that formally investing in Brazil was important. Mr. Chavez said this was particularly the case as crops in the country, and more broadly throughout Latin America, are susceptible to completely different diseases than those found elsewhere, “This represents a further challenge in seed treatment and when we started analyzing how we could offer our solutions to the Brazilian market, we realized that it wasn’t feasible to offer laboratory support from Milliken’s United States’ laboratory.”
This is why fertilizer and seed activities occupy the largest area of the laboratory. As Milliken’s technical manager, Rita Siloto, explained, this is due to the range of analysis and testing processes carried out that require plenty of time and space, “To undertake the testing required we need to evaluate all aspects of a seed’s performance which can include long germination studies and multiple iterations of physical property testing."
New household consumer product testing
In addition to its agricultural focus the new laboratory will also work on plastic additives, household consumer products and polyurethane, offering Milliken customers best in class testing and technical support.
In the household consumer products section of the laboratory, in addition to an increase in the overall testing area, a dedicated room for washing tests has been added in order to evaluate and understand the advantages of Milliken products in different types of textiles, "We conduct bleaching, staining, and other ageing-type tests in washing and drying machines that expose fabrics to different conditions, simulating the day-to-day use by a consumer," Mrs. Siloto said.
This new unit expands on the services that Milliken has long provided to its customers, including color matching, color proposals for final products, sensorial testing and accelerated ageing to guarantee that they remain at the forefront in global color trends.
A blueprint for the future
The team includes four chemists and one agronomical engineer, in addition to the commercial team and, with a dedication to customer service and R&D, Milliken views this new Sao Paolo facility as a demonstration model for developing similar Milliken laboratories, with increased agricultural capabilities, in other parts of the world.