Before the establishment of the CPDA Adjuvant Certification Program, there were few if any defined criteria by which the quality of an adjuvant product on the market could be judged. The CPDA Adjuvant Certification Program plays an essential role in ensuring the validity of adjuvant performance claims, promoting good product stewardship, and developing scientifically supported benchmarks by which the integrity and quality of an adjuvant product can be measured.

Background and History

Spray Adjuvants have long been around. Early generations of Adjuvants would be prehistoric today, but it goes to show that improving and maximizing product performance has always been an important aspect to successful crop production. The pesticides in early times were challenging to formulate and disperse. Various clever means were used as adjuvants to improve a pesticide’s application and performance. Soaps, kerosene, sugar, flour, and resins are just a few examples of early adjuvants that were mixed with pesticides.

In the 1940’s scientific research led to a breakthrough to modernize pesticides. Adjuvants began to advance as well. However, from the 60’s to the mid-80’s the herbicide market was predominantly pre-emergent therefore the Adjuvant Market was focused on pre-emergent formulations. This focus changed, starting in the late 80’s with post-emergent herbicides, the demand to enhance herbicide performance created marketplace opportunity and an explosion of new adjuvants. This created a “Wild West” situation for the adjuvant market.

Not subject to regulatory restrictions like pesticides, Adjuvants had undefined functionality claims and often inconsistent composition. Unfortunately, some products made exaggerated “mega claims” unsupported by scientific evidence with labels carrying “mega-terms”. Standardized definitions were few and some products did not correctly provide safety and handling warnings. The Farmer’s and Grower’s confidence in adjuvants deteriorated as consequences included variable performance and potential crop damage.

The adjuvant market was facing regulatory scrutiny, and the issues prompted some States to develop adjuvant regulations. The ASTM International E-35.22 Subcommittee on Pesticides and Formulation Systems voted to create a Task Force charged with defining Tank Mix Adjuvants. As a result, the Adjuvants and Inerts Committee of CPDA was founded and tasked to develop standards for adjuvants.

A set of 16 Standards were approved and adopted and the product certification of adjuvants became available through the CPDA Adjuvant Certification Program.


When growers select CPDA certified adjuvant products, they have the assurance that the product meets the functionality claims indicated on the label according to a specified, uniform set of standards, and that ingredients used in the product meet EPA regulations for approved ingredients for use in pesticide tank mixes.

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Why it is Important to Use only CPDA Certified Adjuvants

  • CPDA Certified adjuvant products are required to adhere to significant, scientifically supported standards (16 Benchmarks) adopted by ASTM International.
  • Certified products are evaluated for safety and supported by required toxicological data.
  • Adjuvant labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are reviewed by a panel of industry experts.
  • Adjuvant claims and ingredients must be validated.
  • Products seeking certification must meet certain requirements established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
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CPDA Adjuvant Certification