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ROI boosts popularity of seed treatments
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ROI boosts popularity of seed treatments

Treated seed

Missing the details can drastically affect a crop, particularly ahead of planting. Choosing the right seed and applying any early fertilizer are essential for making a profit.

Vince Wertman, director of technical service for Advanced Biological Marketing, said seed treatments are “just one step of the totem pole,” but when applied properly, they can provide good return on investment.

“Our inoculants, such as rhizobium products, provide nitrogen to the plants,” Wertman said. “For our SabrEx line, we know we can increase growth and development and increase biomass. We are an integral part of the complete crop system, and while we aren’t talking a silver bullet, it’s really meant to support a complete system.”

He said stand and emergence were critical this year, and it’s important to ensure “we have adequate nitrogen available throughout the growing season by using good quality inoculant production.”

Emmanuael Byamukama, a plant pathologist with South Dakota State University, said excessive soil moisture can be a big factor for those considering seed treatments.

For those planting into wetter soils, fungicide seed treatments can protect the seeds against pathogens that would normally impact germination, in an article he wrote for extension. However, it’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all scenario.

“The probability of a return on seed treatment depends on several factors,” he said, singling out field history, seed source and the planting time as the top impacts.

“A well-drained field has low incidence of root rot pathogens such as Pythium and Phytophthora,” Byamukama said. “These pathogens are common in water-logged or soil compacted areas of the field.”

He added that variety choice also plays a factor in treatment, as some are more susceptible to disease.

Looking ahead, many of the decisions for future years have already been made by seed treatment companies.

In fact, one of ABM’s newest products, AmpliMax, has been in development for more than five years, Wertman said, and is expected to be available this year. AmpliMax is advertised as having drought tolerance on conventional and traited hybrids, strong root stimulation and ease of application.

Wertman said the other nice thing about AmpliMax is the application rate.

“The seed treatment use rate for corn and soybeans is a tenth of a fluid ounce for a unit of seed,” Wertman said. “In seed treatments, the real estate is really a premium for the amount of material you can put on the seed, so having a low use rate provides a lot of flexibility for the end user.”

The early development of these products means taking a hard look at what trends are being seen in the market, and doesn’t allow for knee-jerk reactions to one abnormal year, he said.

“Some people ask, ‘How do I get higher yields?’ and I tell them it’s like asking me to teach you how to the play the piano,” Wertman said. “It just doesn’t happen in one day. It takes a lot of time and preparation to execute what you want.”

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