Friday, March 24, 2017

What does it take for seed not to be naked? - Syngenta Seedcare Institute Stanton, MN

Syngenta has a very strong seed treatment history. Actually, the concept of investing in seedcare facilities began in 1979, more than 35 years ago. They strongly believe their customers’ success begins with innovation, which is why they have invested more than $1.3 billion in global research and development in the last year alone.  Syngenta also believes their seedcare customers need to know how to treat, service, and calibrate equipment, and apply the right dose on seed to produce a high quality finished product. 

At each of Syngenta’s Seedcare Institute locations around the world, their expert teams focus on defining the following global standards with application support: recipe development, quality assessment/application technology/engineering, stewardship, training, seed safety/biology, and product marketing support.  An investment of around $20 million dollars was made to their North American Seedcare Institute in Stanton, Minnesota.  Recently, Burrus and others were invited to tour this state-of-art facility, which offers enriched seed treatment education, better collaboration opportunities, advanced training, and personal application support. 

We learned many different seed treatment concepts that many don’t even think about.  There are multiple factors that matter, such as seed size and shape, rates, dose, slurry, seed nature and chemistry when it comes to the importance of even treatment distribution on each seed.  Also, we can’t forget about the various active ingredients with special formulations that could be liquid or solid, and the possibility of additional formulation technology to reduce dust off, wetting and setting surfactants, emulsify agents for oil or water, lignin/UV protection, antifreeze properties, antifoam, viscosity/thickening agents, biocides to suppress bacterial growth, or colorants within a seed treatment.

What can go wrong when it comes to treating a seed?  There can be challenges when you try to mix and match a recipe of different seed treatment components.  It might be easier if you had the convenience of a premixed seed treatment, especially when making room for additional components on a seed.  Remember, a seed has only so much room for seed treatment components.  When you start adding rhizobium or micronutrients, you could complicate the situation.  The polymer selection becomes important when it comes to the final combinations and formulation of your seed treatment.  Lastly, the amount of water added and environmental conditions at the time of application can make all the difference when it comes to your final product!  Will that high speed planter place the seed correctly, after it is treated? Don’t worry, they test that too!

The most fascinating realization was that it can take up to four years for a seed treatment to come to market.  It takes about 10 months to evaluate active ingredients, their target(s), crops, seed treatment package, application, handling, storage conditions, efficacy, adjuvants, compatibility, ease of use, solid or liquid, solubility, and solvents.  During this time, the quality assessment of visual appearance, uniform coating, seed sticking to a bag, seed flow (no chunks), ease of planting, or reduction of dust off can make or break the potential of a new seed treatment product.  The next six to eight months usually is spent on seed treatment formulation design and shelf life testing.  The last 12 to 24 months is dedicated to the EPA for their approval.  Burrus appreciates the opportunity to visit the Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN and looks forward to learning more in the future.

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