Date: 15 September 2016

Growers today demand a complete seed product which flows smoothly through the drill and are coated with products designed to protect the crop from pests and disease. Through film coating seed, growers can now minimise time-consuming chemical crop treatments and comply with increasingly strict environmental protection and health and safety requirements.

Applying plant protection products to seed is an environmental breakthrough and a very important tool for integrated pest management. Compared to field spraying, a seed coating helps to reduce the use of plant protection products by a significant percentage providing an important contribution to the sustainability of agriculture and horticulture and a dramatic reduction in costs for the grower.

It is common within New Zealand to apply Imidacloprid as a film coat to the seed of squash, pumpkin and sweet corn, particularly for early season plantings. Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide and is registered for use as a seed treatment on pumpkin, squash and sweet corn.

Pumpkin & Squash: Aphids, Argentine stem weevil, grass grub beetle, Lucerne flea, springtails

Sweet Corn: Argentine stem weevil, black beetle

The objectives of film coating seed include:

  1. Safe, accurate and dust free incorporation of plant protection products
  2. Improvement of the plantability of a seed lot
  3. Improvement of the appearance of a seed lot

Seed Innovations™ are proud to partner with world leaders in seed enhancement, Incotec®, to provide New Zealand growers with the best the world can offer when it comes to film coating technologies.

What is dust-off and why does it matter?

Dust-off is the free floating dust particles and abrasion particles that can be found with treated seed lots, often seen as a residual powder at the bottom of a seed pail or sack. These particles may contain bits of the seed coat, some film coat formulation and of most concern plant protection products.

Dust-off is an issue for growers due to:

  • Cost: any dust-off remaining in or on the seed packaging or which floats away in the air can be attributed a cost
  • Crop Protection: it is critical the plant protection products are present on the seed at the required rate otherwise protection of the crop may be at risk and yields may suffer as a result
  • Pest Resistance: if the plant protection products aren’t present on the seed at the appropriate rates for targeting the pest, resistance may develop over time in extreme circumstances
  • Environmental Concerns: The impact of dust-off on the environment and in particular bee health is of great concern. Options to minimise this impact need to be taken where available
  • Health & Safety Obligations: The impact of dust-off on the operator is of great concern. Employers need to ensure they are managing this risk with the correct Personal Protective Equipment and where options exist to minimise this effect we act responsibly.

As part of the Seed Innovations™ partnership with Incotec® we have access to testing treated seed lots in their independent and accredited laboratory. Using the Heubach protocol treated seed lots can be tested for dust-off. This testing is valuable as it provides us with data to optimise our coating operations and ensure our customers are getting what they pay for and minimising the risk to operators and the environment when sowing seed.

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