Agricultural Applications and Biosurfactants

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The Use of Rhamnolipids In Agriculture

Rhamnolipids have several applications in agriculture. Since they are a natural, “green” and organic product they can meet the standards for natural organic foods and plant products. Rhamnolipid can take over many of the uses of artificial and toxic petrochemicals in agriculture, food processing, and food storage. Rhamnolipid functions as emulsifiers, surfactants, wetting agents, and anti-spore agents in a number of agricultural applications.

As a surfactant, rhamnolipid is an important chemical ingredient in agricultural formulations as there is a shift to “natural” and “green” culture practices and certifications. Nearly all pesticides, foliar sprays, liquid fertilizers, and fruit preservative coatings use a surfactant. As a surfactant, rhamnolipid will emulsify the ingredients to help with uniform distribution, preserve shelf life, act as a wetting agent to ensure complete and even coating of the target surface, act as a foaming agent to control drifting of the sprays during application, transport nutrients to the roots, help with absorption of foliage sprays and/or help with cleaning surfaces. To purchase a biosurfactant sample-click here Biosurfactant Sample

Spore Lysis

Rhamnolipid has shown to lysis spores and some bacteria. These spores are the reproductive state for plant pathogens and organisms that spoil fruit. The inclusion of rhamnolipid in spray formulations will protect plants from diseases such as powdery mildew which attack plants and rot fruit and vegetables. Although rhamnolipid will not kill these pathogens while growing, it will stop them from reproducing therefore stopping the “one bad apple in the barrel” effect.


Rhamnolipid is slowly replacing detergents in pesticides as a green alternative. As a component of the pesticide, rhamnolipid will control pathogenic spores. Foliar sprays are used to apply nutrients to plant leaves, to improve the appearance of the plant, and to minimize transpiration of water in drought and dry climates. Rhamnolipid is also used to help the adsorption of certain pollutants into certain plants. This allows the removal of the pollutants by harvesting the plant and then processing it to extract the pollutant.

Micro Nutrient Application

Some micronutrients such as iron are not normally dissolvable in water. Iron is a critical nutrient for plants forming chlorophyll. Rhamnolipid forms a chelating agent for the delivery of iron and other micronutrients to the plant. All fertilizers need to be in a solution in order to be absorbed by the plant. Rhamnolipid, as a surfactant will help emulsify the fertilizer and transport it to the plant. Rhamnolipid helps with the adsorption of nutrients through the cell walls

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Preservative

Rhamnolipid sprayed on fruits and vegetables will inhibit spoilage through the killing of damaging spores. Rhamnolipid will also help in the spreading of vegetable waxes used to reduce the loss of water during fruit and vegetable storage. Since rhamnolipid is approved as a food ingredient, rhamnolipid can be safely used on plants and fresh fruits and vegetables. Since rhamnolipid is natural and organic, their use will still allow the produce to be marked as “Organically grown and processed.”

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