A dye is a colored substance and has an affinity to applied substrate. Dye is applied in an aqueous solution and sometimes mordant is required to improve the fastness of the dye on the fiber. Pigment on the other hand changes the color of reflected or transmitted light due to selective wavelength absorption. Pigments are insoluble in nature as compared to dyes and have no affinity towards substrate. Both dyes and pigments are colored due to absorption of wavelength of light. Pigments are unaffected both physically and chemically by the substrate in which they are incorporated. Pigments are spread in the substrate and are used in manufacturing of inks, paints, plastics.
Demand for agricultural dyes and pigments are growing in end user industry like fertilizers. There are numerous applications of these specific dyes & pigments like it forms a protective coating around the seeds and protects the internal parts of the seeds from fungi, bacteria and insects. Seed coating also prevents water loss and splits before the emergence of plant.
Agriculture Dyes & Pigments – Applications overview:
a) Seed Coating
• The primary way of enhancing seed performance is through the addition of chemicals to protect the seed from pathogens. These are generally fungicides, although insecticides and other protecting agents can also be applied in this way. Until recently, these chemicals were applied mainly as slurry that coated the seeds and then was dried. Disadvantages of this method are that it is difficult to get a uniform coating of the material on the seed and much of the material can be rubbed off the seed during transport and handling. This is wasteful of the chemicals, is hazardous for the workers planting the seeds, and in some countries, including the U.S., requires the disposal of the seed bags as a hazardous waste.
• In recent years, film-coating methods have been developed to overcome these problems. In film coating, the chemicals are applied in a polymer that is sprayed on the seeds as they fall through a specialized machine. The polymer is rapidly dried, so that the seeds emerge with a complete, dry polymeric coating.
• This coating does not rub off the seeds, greatly reducing worker exposure and waste. In addition, colours can be added to the polymers to code different varieties or seed lots. Large-scale units capable of treating large quantities of seeds have been developed, making it feasible to treat high-volume agronomic crops by this method as well.
b) Turf & Ornamental
• Dyes & pigments used in turf & ornamental applications are non-staining liquid colorants, available majorly in blue and green, designed to be used with pesticide, fertilizer, and/or plant growth regulator tank mixes. The colour strength and performance characteristics are designed for turf grass (golf course, sports turf).
• Turf paints (dyes/pigments) are also environmentally safe green pigments that will not harm turf or fade away in ultraviolet light. These products provide a natural, pleasing green colour to off-colour, damaged, or dormant turf. Major applications include use on golf courses, sports turf fields, residential and commercial lawns, and other sites where turf grass and ornamental grasses are maintained.
• Fertilizers are often added with colouring to differentiate between qualities and to avoid any type of errors in application. Fertilizers are also coloured for purely marketing purposes. Usually water based pigment is often used in the diluted form and is sprayed onto the fertilizer or sometimes incorporated into a melt.
d) Crop Protection
• Use of colorants in crop protection agents of the type insecticide and fungicides helps to clearly demarcate treated areas from the untreated ones. In addition, the dye stuffs also help in promoting safety in the handling operations.
• Colouring of pesticides or herbicides is generally done by mixing chromatic pigments with dry powder formulations of the agents. Milori blue is a very popular pigment, that goes well with viticultural fungicides, other categories of pigments include lithol rubine, heliogen blue etc., Dyes used in the crop protection industry are Solvent dyes, Acid dyes or Basic dyes the better alternative.
e) Pond/Lake Colour
• Lake and Pond colorants are blended formulations of water soluble dyes and inert ingredients. They are designed for use in lakes, ponds, decorative water features and other impounded bodies of water with limited outflow. These colorants beautify murky, cloudy or discoloured water with aesthetically pleasing, natural tints.
• For e.g. a blue colorant will give a pleasing, natural aqua-blue tint to lakes and ponds. Similarly, a black colorant gives water a glassy, mirrored appearance. Such products are safe to be used around humans and wildlife when applied as directed.
These dyes and pigments are also used in other crop production products and are favored due to their eco-friendly nature. There are different type of dyes are available in the market like acid dyes, basic dyes, direct dyes disperse dyes and others. Agricultural dyes and pigments play a vital role in process industry. Infrastructure growth is also promoting growth of this market.
The European agricultural dyes and pigments market is estimated to reach $356.4 million by 2021, growing CAGR of 4.25% from $280.31 million in 2015. The growing demand for eco-friendly products, increasing awareness regarding soil pollution due to harmful chemicals is propelling the growth of this market. Furthermore, the overall market in this report is presented from the perspective of key countries for this industry. Germany had the major market share in 2015 due to continuous adoption and implementation of new technological changes, followed by France.
There are many key players operating in the Europe agricultural dyes and pigments market. Bayer CropScience AG, BASF SE, Clariant International AG, Chromatech Incorporated and INCOTEC Group BV., hold the majority market share in 2015.