Most generic pesticides are budget friendly, but is the performance of the generic pesticide any different from the original branded pesticide?

Generic or ‘off-patent’ pesticides can represent a great way of making savings in input costs. But as we have established before in #ThinkAgronomy they are not always identical to – or indeed as effective as – the original pesticide product.

Original vs Generic Pesticides

A good case in point is a lambda-cyhalothrin insecticide that I was asked to look at. The performance against Russian Wheat Aphids and Grain Aphids was significantly less than the original product; in this case Karate Zeon.

Examining the efficacy and value for money of a product is not as simple as checking the amount of active ingredient – a 5% lambda-cyhalothrin formulation contains 95% of other components including surfactants, solvents, carriers or other ingredients that improve the usability and performance of the active substance.

generic agro chemicals
Russian Wheat Aphids and Grain aphids sheltered inside the leaf sheath revealed big differences in the level of control between the two products

The formulation of the generic pesticide that I was given was well priced and had the same active ingredient loading as the original pesticide, Karate Zeon… and it was less expensive.

Both the generic pesticide and the original were applied at a standard 300mls in 100 litres of water concentration, and applied to several barley plants infested with Russian Wheat and Grain Aphids. After inspection 3 days later, the control was the same with both products – visually.

When examined however, aphids sheltered in the leaf sheath out of direct contact from the spray were far less well controlled with the generic pesticide.

What made the comparison even more noteworthy was when plants that were FREE of any aphids were deliberately treated with the insecticide, then after three days had Russian Wheat Aphid introduced to them to look at the persistence and residual effects of the product. The survival of aphids was far higher after 24 hours where the generic pesticide was applied, suggested less persistence.

Bear in mind that the photo stability of insecticides is a very important part of the formulation process, and the micro-encapsulation technology of the original product is designed to do just that.

Good to know that you get what you pay for sometimes.

*Note, not all formulations of lambda-cyhalothrin were tested, and there are many very good generic products that I regularly recommend to my clients. The crucial point is to ask questions, seek independent trials results, and don’t buy on price alone.

Center of Excellence for Crop Rotation Agventures

Farming for the future requires a change of approach. Monoculture, soil degradation and climate change and soil degradation are threats to the futureof how we feed the planet. Agventure Ltd set up the Center of Excellence for Crop Rotation to help farmers diversify cropping systems and introduce techniques which have a long-term outlook to improve soil health. The Center of Excellence for Crop Rotation works extensively with Crop Nutrition Laboratory Services Ltd (CropNuts). 

Till next time, 

Happy farming, 


David Jones

About David

David Jones is the Broad Acre Specialist at Crop Nutrition Laboratory Services Ltd. (CROPNUTS). David has a keen interest in soils and no till farming systems where he has undertaken work looking into weed levels and changes in soil structure, and has extensive experience in field trials and in the development of precision farming techniques. In his spare time he enjoys playing rugby.