Protect, Propel, Produce – The $1 Billion Annual Investment
Mar 22Protect, Propel, Produce – The $1 Billion Annual Investment
Delivering the most advanced seed treatments has never been more exciting. Seed treatments are typically thought of as consisting of fungicides and insecticides but they are, and will become much more. Using seed to deliver “treatments” is viewed as ideal given the applications close proximity to the seed/seedling, low application rates and user safety. New seed treatments are increasingly being commercialized and offer unconventional benefits.
Fungicide Seed Treatment
Growers have been using the same fungicide treatments for years. Spring 2016 will represent the most significant change in fungicide treatment; growers will plant corn seed treated with Stamina® fungicide.
Maizex Seeds has investigated Stamina® on corn over the past 2 years. Stamina® has shown increased early season root and shoot growth, resulting in increased yield. The added benefit of increased seedling cold tolerance offered by Stamina® was revealed in 2015 after much of Ontario received a May 23rd frost. Seed treated with Stamina® showed advantageous results. Stamina® seed treatment is included on all Maizex corn treated with Fortenza® insecticide.
For Spring 2017, a fungicide seed treatment is expected for use in soybean to provide control of Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) and suppress Soybean Cyst Nematodes (SCN). Early results show increased plant health, delayed senescence and increased yield in the presence of SDS and/or SCN.
Insecticide Seed Treatment
The future of neonicotinoid insecticide use on corn and soybeans is in question across eastern Canada. For 2016 planting, a new class of chemistry (diamides) is available on corn and offers similar efficacy to neonicotinoids. Diamides (Fortenza®) provides more targeted control of insects in corn when compared to neonicotinoids. In the near future, an alternative diamide insecticide will be available for use as a seed treatment.
In soybean, options for new insecticidal seed treatments are a few years away. That being said, growers will have to put more emphasis on monitoring for insect pressure. This may result in prioritizing neonicotinoid seed treatments on soybean acres rather than corn.
Biological Seed Treatment
Investing an estimated $304 million (2014) in biological seed treatments globally, companies continue to offer unique and diverse products to growers. In simplest terms, application of living microorganisms on seed before planting is classified as a biological seed treatment. The organism applied often benefits the seedling crop either by a symbiotic relationship or acting as a defense against pathogens.
Symbiotic relationships occur when the microorganism provides resources (usually nutrients) to the crop seedling promoting growth. The most familiar example of a symbiotic relationship would be applying rhizobium inoculant to soybean seed. The rhizobium inoculant provides nitrogen to the soybean plant resulting in increased yield.
Defense relationships exist where organisms out-compete others for space. As an example, VOTiVO® is a bacteria applied to seeds which reproduces and colonizes on seedling roots creating a physical barrier. This physical barrier limits the nematodes’ ability to infect the seedling root.
There is no doubt biological seed treatments will be used more widely in row crops. Planter seed hoppers will be more commonly filled with not only a living seed but living seed treatments in the future.
Polymer Seed Coating
With increased interest in fungicide, insecticide and biological seed treatments, it raises the question, “how do we keep all this on the seed and in an active state?” – Welcome to the new world of polymer seed coatings.
To many people, polymers imply plastic. In fact, polymers are used in many products in our everyday life such as chewing gum, makeup products and tape, to name a few. Polymers as seed coatings are used in many crops and have many capabilities. Red clover, grass seed and alfalfa contain polymers which increase germination rates by concentrating water closer to the seed. In corn, Maizex Seeds uses the most advanced polymer to reduce the ‘dust off’ potential of seed treatments during the planting process.
Polymers have been used to increase seed flow and maintain treatment integrity. The future may include polymers to delay germination, enhance imbibition and pellet seed to standard size.
Increased seedling cold tolerance, providing barriers to insects and increased seed germination rates are not traits typically associated with seed treatments. Seeds are becoming the carrier of their own fate, delivering technology to optimize seedling performance. The challenge to the seed industry will be to identify product combinations which will result in increased gain to growers. The future of seed treatments is bright, however, they will become increasingly more complex and diverse.
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