Welcome back to the Algae Corner with me, Dr. West Bishop! We have a very exciting episode today. I’m going to cover how copper formulations differ. We're going to focus in on one formulation in particular, and how we designed it to act differently, to act better than any other formulation for controlling tough nuisance algae.
Copper Tolerance in Algal Cells
To start, some algae have mechanisms to tolerate copper, making them tougher to control. This algal defense methodology is primarily by excluding copper from entering the cell. So if they keep it external, it can't get inside, and that's where copper really needs to get to have the most impact.
One of these defense mechanisms to keep copper external is thick mucilage. This provides a barrier to copper, not allowing it to penetrate into the cell. Thick mat-forming algae have a harder time allowing copper to move through and pass through it. Large colonies of cells may protect each other. The inner cells may not be exposed to copper, whereas outer cells may be.
Macroalgae can have calcium carbonate built up, making it harder for copper to do its job. There’s also a lot of algae with attached periphyton, different algae or bacteria outside of it, which will bind up the copper and keep it from controlling the target nuisance algae.
Advantage in Formulation Differences
So, how do we get around copper tolerance mechanisms? That is where this specific formulation comes into play. You'll see that different copper formulations can greatly influence how copper interacts with algae, especially these tough, nuisance algae with defense mechanisms. For example, historic copper sulfate will just bind externally to the cell and has a harder time getting into the cell where it needs to be, where it gets the most efficiency out of copper use.
With Captain XTR, we designed it to act differently. We designed it to actually penetrate the cell and bypass these defense mechanisms. This way, it can get into the cell and control it from the inside out. This concept is what I've coined as INFUSION. Think of this as the ability of that copper to passively move through the cell wall, the cell membrane, all these defense mechanisms, and get inside the cell to control it from the inside out.
What Makes Captain XTR Unique
How did we create Captain XTR? First, it's a chelated copper. That's very important because it's designed to not interact with different water chemistries. A lot of copper, like copper sulfate, may bind with things in the water column. For example, it can bind with carbonates, rendering it non-available to the algae. Chelated copper is around more, it's able to find the algae, and it's less interactive with different interfering factors such as water quality parameters.
Additionally, we have built in multiple surfactants and emulsifiers in the formulation, something that can only be done under a controlled environment. And they work very well with the chelated copper. The penetrants in this emulsifier package, what we call SP9000, are able to pass these barriers: the mucilage, the external bacteria, those thick mats. So by getting directly into the cells, you get better control of these thick nuisance algae infestations.
Lyngbya specimen before Captain XTR application
Lyngbya specimen after Captain XTR application (15-30 seconds)
Captain XTR does a great job of getting into and through one of the toughest, thick filamentous algae out there, and that's lyngbya. We've talked about it already, but this is a nasty toxin and taste and odor producer. It’s a big, thick, filamentous blue-green species. Algal mats often appear sort of blackish in color. Under the microscope, we can actually see Captain XTR penetrating through the sheath, getting into the cells, and then moving throughout the lyngbya. So not only can Captain XTR get into the filament, but it can move through it, controlling all of those cells, and then moving through those big thick mats in order to get control.
Many people who use Captain XTR say they see the algae dying rapidly. Within a matter of minutes to hours after applying Captain XTR, they can see impacts to the algae. For example, a pond full of nuisance algae won’t stand a chance after one of these applications. Another case is this stormwater pond full of thick, filamentous, nuisance algae. And again, a couple weeks after applying Captain XTR it cleared up. You can take out a lot of those thick, nuisance, mat formers following a single application of XTR.
In another field site, they actually tried a number of different products, including other copper products, even other chelated copper products, and they just weren't able to get control. Getting on the Captain XTR program, they were able to clean up this field site where other copper products simply couldn't get control. Again, that is a function of formulation differences.
Useful in a Variety of Sites
Captain XTR is widely used in canal systems. This is applied to canals with flowing water, and it’s able to keep that water moving for irrigation uses or for flood control. Captain XTR has many usages in these canal systems and can keep those thick, mat forming algae or macro-algae down in the canals and able to keep those waters moving.
In fact, Captain XTR is approved for use in a variety of sites. Ponds, lakes, canals, drinking water reservoirs, and even chemigation systems. If you have trouble with your irrigation heads clogging on the golf course, for example, or when irrigating fruits and vegetables, you may have algae in your source water. Captain XTR can be put right through this system with no irrigation risk to the crops you're planting.
Captain XTR is the strongest and most broad-spectrum algaecide currently on the market. It is the ultimate INFUSION technology. It gets more copper into those thick mats, bypassing the mucilage and defense structures in algal colonies to get better control. It can control most types of algae, especially those tough, nuisance ones. It's a unique, stable formulation that we have patented, and it has chelated copper with added emulsifiers and surfactants.
So if you are dealing with a tough, thick, nasty algae site and you don't know where to begin, Captain XTR should be your go-to product.