Greg Hanna, Technical Specialist for UPL UK & IE
“In terms of a basic plant benefit, seed treatments are the most efficient way of getting an active ingredient into a plant, far more so than a foliar application. By placing an active ingredient in the rhizosphere, it allows for a more efficient uptake and use of the chemistry available.
It’s this targeted approach that means seed treatments use a lower rate of active ingredient per hectare compared with equivalent foliar sprays, reducing the overall chemical usage on farm.
Because we are only using chemicals where they are needed, this has environmental benefits too, for example, a lower risk of leaching into watercourses, or ingestion by wildlife. As we operate in an ever-challenging regulatory framework, being able to demonstrate environmental responsibility will become increasingly important.
Due to the loss of chemistry over the past few years, for some pests, seed treatments provide the only control option. This is demonstrated with insecticide seed treatment Signal® 300 ES – the only product that can be used to reduce the damage from frit fly in wheat and barley.
Protecting crops in the early stages from pests and diseases is pivotal, as this is when they are most vulnerable. And for some, seed treatments are the best and only way to apply chemistry to the area where they are needed. An example of this is using fungicide seed treatment Rancona® i-MIX for the control of loose smut – a disease which lays dormant in the seed embryo and that can only be controlled by using a seed treatment.
As well as controlling diseases such as loose smut in the seed itself, seed treatments create a residual zone of protection around the seed and early rooting structures, right where it is needed to provide protection from pests and soil-borne fungal pathogens.
Without these tools, crop establishment would be even more challenging, and crop failures would be far more frequent.
A wider benefit that UPL seed treatments offer is improved operator safety and handling – key aspects considered during early product development. Micro emulsion (ME) formulations used in products such as Rancona i-MIX provide more consistent loading and coverage on the seed, and have reduced levels of dust. This is important for operators at all stages, from the seed treatment plant through to the drill operator.
Sowing a crop without an appropriate treatment could be seen as taking a risk where the consequences far outweigh the potential reward. The cost of applying a seed treatment is relatively small compared to that of a failed or unsaleable crop. This is demonstrated with bunt – not apparent until the ears of a crop have emerged, a stage when a crop has received most of its inputs, incurring substantial financial loss.
Seed treatments have been a victim of their own success. Due to the exceptional levels of pest and pathogen control they can achieve it is easy to forget about the consequences of their absence.”