Seed Treatments Require Proper Handling
Jane DeMarchi, vice president of government and regulatory affairs, American Seed Trade Association (ASTA): The use of seed treatment technologies by farmers is an effective tool to provide the necessary protection of seed for a strong, healthy start. But it is essential that those who treat, handle, transport and plant treated seeds manage them properly and in accordance with label instructions to minimize the risk of pesticide exposure to nontarget organisms.
Ravi Ramachandran, Ph.D., head of the North America Seedcare Institute, Syngenta: A focus on stewardship helps improve the safety and efficiency of the overall seed treatment process, while enabling delivery of high-quality treated seed. Implementing stewardship best practices minimizes the risk of product exposure for all personnel in the seed-supply chain.
“It is essential that those who treat, handle, transport and plant treated seeds manage them properly and in accordance with label instructions to minimize the risk of pesticide exposure to nontarget organisms.”
What is your organization doing to help resolve the challenges?
DeMarchi: The Environmental Protection Agency is relying on the seed industry to take a proactive role in communicating specific recommendations for seed treatment stewardship. ASTA has developed guides, videos and other educational resources that applicators and growers can find on our website, www.betterseed.org, under “Resources.”
Through these resources and in collaboration with partners, including CropLife America, Agricultural Retailers Association, National Corn Growers Association and American Soybean Association, we’re reminding growers to follow the five basic steps of stewardship:
- 1. Follow directions on treated-seed-container labeling for handling, storage, planting and disposal practices.
- 2. Eliminate weeds in and around the field prior to planting.
- 3. Minimize dust.
- 4. Be aware of pollinator populations.
- 5. Clean and remove treated seed from equipment and dispose of it properly to help keep it out of commodity grain channels.
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ASTA looks at stewardship from the full life cycle of the product—from the storage of seed treatment products all the way to the final disposal by the grower. And we’re getting the word out through public service announcements on farm broadcasting networks, social media channels and in-person meetings. We urge all seed companies and seed retailers to join us in communicating just how important seed treatment stewardship is to their companies, their customers and their communities.
Ramachandran: Syngenta has embedded stewardship in all aspects of a product’s life cycle. For more than three decades, Syngenta Seedcare has been a leader in developing and implementing stewardship best practices. Our primary goal is to make sure our customers apply responsible and ethical management when using seed-applied technologies to derive maximum agronomic benefit at the farm level.
The Seedcare Institute in Stanton, Minnesota, is integral in helping us deliver the Seedcare value offer, P.A.S., which stands for products, application and services. With the P.A.S. approach, we not only provide an industry-leading product portfolio, we also give in-depth application advice and in-season service support.
As part of our service offer, we put great emphasis on education and training. In 2017 alone, our experts in Stanton trained more than 1,500 customers. Through the training, participants gain practical knowledge on:
- Preparing an optimal crop-specific treatment recipe for growers
- Interpreting product labels and safety data sheets
- Selecting and properly using personal protective equipment
- Following best practices on how to store and dispose of products and treated seed, and how to recycle product containers
From a stewardship perspective, what should growers look for when selecting a seed treatment applicator and treated seed products?
“With today’s tight margins, growers need to be confident that the seed they are planting will maximize crop yields while minimizing disruption of their operation and impact on the environment.”
DeMarchi: Growers should make sure that applicators have the necessary equipment, knowledge and training to deliver high-quality treated seed. This includes starting with quality seed and then properly cleaning it to maximize adherence of the seed treatment. Company personnel should be well-versed on the compatibility of the component parts of recipes that they use. Overtreatment—the application of a second seed treatment recipe to previously treated seed—can impact the integrity of the original treatment. Therefore, we recommend a one-time application of all seed treatment products.
Ramachandran: With today’s tight margins, growers need to be confident that the seed they are planting will maximize crop yields while minimizing disruption of their operation and impact on the environment. A good start is knowing what’s on their seed and who’s applying their seed treatment. Treatment applicators should be knowledgeable, trained and use properly calibrated equipment, so they can produce high-quality treated seed that contains the right dose of product. The treatment itself should have a sound agronomic package of active ingredients that stay on the seed through planting, with low dust-off and good seed flow to minimize planter buildup. Using the right treatment recipe that includes polymers can also minimize seed abrasion during the planting process.
It’s important to remember that stewardship is a shared responsibility from end-to-end of a seed supply chain, and everyone involved must play their part. At Syngenta, we are certainly happy to play ours and are here to help in any way possible.
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