Should You Use Premix vs. Tank Mixed Ag Chemicals?

FBN Network

Mar 26, 2024

Chemical applications, including herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and fertilizers, are critical to meeting a crop’s yield and quality potential. In 2023, U.S. farmers spent nearly $67 billion on fertilizers and pesticides, representing one of the top production expenses. 

If you’re looking for ways to get the most from those input dollars, consider how premix or tank mixed formulations could add value to your operation. 

What’s the Difference Between a Premix And a Tank Mix?

Tank-mixing combines two or more products that must be physically mixed in a spray tank prior to application. An example is adding a foliar micronutrient to your fungicide application or combining multiple herbicides together in one spray tank.  

Premixed products are specially formulated to be sprayed without physically mixing products prior to application. For example, Resicore® is a herbicide premix that contains three active ingredients – acetochlor, clopyralid, and mesotrione – in one jug that can be conveniently added to the spray tank without mixing. 

Pros and Cons of Premixes and Tank Mixes

Evaluating whether to use a premix or tank mix will require you to weigh the pros and cons of each option while considering your budget, overall goals, and labor resources. 

Premix Pros 

Some benefits of premixed crop protection products include:

  • Convenient handling and storage

  • Less application prep required compared to tank mixes

  • Known crop safety

  • Cost-effectiveness, in some cases, compared to tank mixing or making multiple application passes

  • Resistance management advantages

Premix Cons

While there are many benefits of premixed products, the following limitations should also be considered:

  • Less flexibility to customize rates and products for field conditions

  • Chemical ratios may not be optimized for specific geographies and growing conditions

  • Application timing may not be optimized for individual active ingredients, reducing efficacy compared to separate product applications 

In some situations, tank mixing may be a more effective strategy. 

Tank Mixing Pros 

Benefits of tank mixing can include:

  • Ability to customize products and rates depending on your field conditions and goals

  • Improved efficacy and more precise application timing depending on products mixed

  • More efficiency (fewer field passes) when combining multiple product classes, for example, fertilizers and fungicides

  • May be more cost-effective and efficacious than pre-mixed products

Tank Mixing Cons

Limitations of tank mixing include:

  • More product handling and storage required 

  • Tank mix compatibility issues

  • Concerns over crop safety when mixing chemicals

  • More time-consuming application prep compared to premixed products

Consider Which Mix Approach Best Suits Your Soil Type

For premixes, the ratio of chemicals is prepared for the highest volume of use in a particular region. However for different climates and soil types, the optimal volume is not necessarily the highest volume.

For example, Harness Xtra® 5.6L is a simple combination of 3.1 lbs. of acetochlor and 2.5 lbs. of atrazine per gallon. This combination works well in central Iowa but not in places where soils need a certain chemical volume to get pre-emergence grass under control without causing atrazine carryover and impacting future soybean rotations.

The makers of Harness Xtra® 5.6L realized this issue and released another premix called Harness Xtra®, which has 4.3 lbs. of acetachlor and 1.7 lbs. of atrazine per gallon. This formulation allowed for more grass control with less atrazine for heavier soils where atrazine carryover is an issue. 

Consider Application Timing Conflicts

When using a premix, application timing is dictated by the ingredient ratios in the mix, which are determined by the manufacturer.

However, the individual pesticides may actually be best suited for different application timings. For example, Spartan Charge® is a combination of Authority® (sulfentrazone), a pre-emergent herbicide, and Aim® (carfentrazone), a post-herbicide.

The combination should stop weeds from emerging before germination and control weeds after they emerge. But by waiting to spray until weeds have emerged to increase the effectiveness of the post-herbicide, some weeds will germinate that the post-herbicide does not control.

Spraying earlier will increase the effectiveness of the pre-emergent herbicide, but more of the post-herbicide will be lost before it can be effective, potentially requiring a second spray. Sometimes, you can achieve the best weed control by applying pesticides separately.

Consider the Time Investment Required for Customization 

Tank mixes give you more freedom to customize your chemical mix to align with your soil type and ideal application timing, but they also require more attention to ensure optimum performance.

If products aren’t mixed according to label guidelines, efficacy may be reduced and you could cause equipment damage. Additionally, some chemicals, when combined, may increase the susceptibility for crop damage. 

When tank mixing products, check the product’s label (you can search for thousands of chemical labels here) for application guidelines and adjuvant recommendations. The label should contain information about chemical compatibility, but companies don’t test the compatibility of all combinations. 

You can perform a simple compatibility test by mixing the products in a small container at planned rates prior to mixing in a full-scale spray tank.

When mixing compatible chemicals, add products in the following order for optimal mixing. The mixture should be given time to agitate after each step and new addition.

  • Wettable Powders

  • Dispersible Granules

  • Flowables

  • Emulsifiable Concentrates  

A few mixing guidelines:

  • Mix only what is needed for the day

  • Don’t add concentrated chemicals to an empty tank, fill half the tank with clean water first

  • Start the agitation before adding chemicals

  • When rinsing mixing containers, pour the rinsate into the tank

  • Fill the tank to its final volume after all the products have been added

  • Properly dispose of all empty chemical containers

Should I Buy Premix or Use a Tank Mix?

It’s not always obvious when to choose a premixed crop protection product vs. a tank mix. Premixes offer a convenient way to control a variety of pests while saving time and storage space. Premixes are also professionally formulated and tested for reliable performance and crop safety. They generally include multiple modes of action to aid in resistance management on the farm. 

The real benefit of tank mixes is being able to choose the ratio of each product to get the best performance based on the unique conditions of your operation. This improved performance may even justify the cost of two different product applications compared to a premix product sprayed once at a timing that is optimized for only one active ingredient.  

Plan and Purchase Ag Chem Through FBN Direct®

Proactively planning your chem strategy and deciding between premixes or tank mixes can help you maximize your spend this season. With transparent pricing, straightforward online ordering, detailed product labels and fast direct-to-farm delivery, FBN can help you get the products you need to protect your crops. Learn more by visiting FBN Direct

Harness is a registered trademark of Bayer Crop Science. Spartan Charge, Authority and Aim are are registered trademarks of FMC Corporation. Resicore is a registered trademark of Corteva Agriscience.

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FBN Network

Mar 26, 2024

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