Success With Seed Care

There are plenty of ag retailers that have determined that seed treatment makes sense for their grower-customer (and cents for their businesses in the process). Here we present some ag retail seed treatment success stories.

Ceres Solutions: Building Efficiencies

Seed treatment services is standard fare at Ceres Solutions LLC, Crawfordsville, IN. With about 85% of soybeans going out the door, getting untreated seed is like buying a car without a radio. “It’s now our standard offering, we’re going to treat the beans unless you tell us not to,” says Randy Fry, agronomy manager, to emphasize the point. “Of course, you always have a choice, but it is an offering we firmly believe in. We recommend to them what they need on that acre, and it has been very successful.”

Ceres offers a “fully loaded” program, featuring fungicides, insecticides, inoculant and growth promoters from Winfield Solutions, Syngenta and Monsanto. Products are field tested on the company’s own plots, and Ceres also works with Winfield Solutions and gains insights on product performance from Winfield’s Answer Plot test data.

To meet the increasing demand for seed treatment, Ceres has focused on efficiency as well as stewardship. “We built four seed hubs where we can custom blend about any seed treatment a grower would want, in quantities ranging from the bag to the semi load,” says Fry. The hub concept replaced multiple, and comparatively inefficient equipment with updated, versatile units that provide greater accuracy of application rate and higher volume. And because there are fewer locations that stock the seed treatment products, stewardship is improved.

Corn seed treatments are a future opportunity. “We haven’t done much on that at all, but growers are asking about it,” says Fry. “We are really in the early stages on that, but plant growth regulators, biologicals, inoculants, micronutrients are things we are looking exploring.”

As crop prices continue to stay high and agriculture maintains its positive outlook, growers will continue to seek out products and practices that provide that extra measure or yield or risk protection, and seed treatments will be a beneficial and profitable part of the plan. “We’re always looking at new things, trying to find the next big thing,” says Fry.

Heartland Cooperative: Building Incremental Benefit

Heartland Cooperative, based in West Des Moines, IA, has extensive experience in using seed treatments, including the five years that Craig Orr has worked there as director of agronomy marketing. He estimates that 75% of the cooperative’s soybeans go out with a seed treatment, which includes a 5% year-over-year improvement on the business overall.

Corn treatment is still in the offing, although Orr says that about 3% of its corn seed sold received a zinc seed treatment.

“It’s a very profitable venue for the cooperative, and very profitable for the customer,” says Orr. “As the cost of seed has gone up, protecting seed against disease and insect pressure gives you higher out of ground population, a better stand and the opportunity for higher yield.” Products are also continuing to improve, he adds, providing better efficacy and higher yield potential.

Monte Van Wyk, seed sales manager for Heartland, says that while growers have in general come to expect their seed to be treated, its benefits are often taken for granted. “It’s more of a hidden advantage, a hidden savior,” says Van Wyk. “They aren’t looking to prove an incremental benefit of the seed treatment alone — if you surveyed growers about their practices, you won’t hear them say, ‘yeah, it’s the seed treatment that saved me.’” But they trust that if a problem arises in the field that the treatment is designed to address, it will do what it’s supposed to do, he adds.

Products used are region-dependent, and include Accel­eron, CruiserMaxx and INOVATE. “We haven’t seen a lot of performance differences with different products, they have all been good,” says Van Wyk.

In addition to advancements in products, application methods have improved significantly. “The retail sector pioneered ways to apply the products, originally applying by hand and later by spraying as it came off the augers, to what we have today,” says Van Wyk. “We’re continuously upgrading our systems and improving them each year.”

Heartland runs systems manufactured by KSI Convey­or and Agrilead. The systems feature continuous flow, which automates the process and makes it simpler to monitor inventories and create precise prescriptions. “It’s a weight-based system and it works very well,” says Orr. “It helps us control our inventory costs, it allows us to create a prescription and gives us a printout of everything we are doing so we can be confident that everything is billed. We don’t have to write something down, it is tracked automatically.”

Growers also get a printout of exactly what was done — with the number of bags and units treated, and what they were treated with.

In the future, both Orr and Van Wyk see more product options coming online, including biologicals, as the search for the next yield boosting technology intensifies. “Commodity price increases mean that growers will continue to be interested in yield-increasing technologies, and are apt to try new things,” says Van Wyk. “Biologicals and other types of treatments will provide more tools in the toolbox that help growers enhance yield potential in the crops they grow.”

Winfield Solutions: A Promising Future

For Shoreview, MN-based Winfield Solutions LLC, the past few years have been mighty good to its seed treatment division.

“In the past three years, people have been really excited about seed treatment and there have been a lot of companies getting into the market that hadn’t been there before,” says Gregg Finlay, director of seed treatments, grain protectants and inoculants.

As the majority of its grower-customers are in the winter wheat game, the company has observed the popularity of fungicide treatments increase exponentially. “There have been constant advances and improvements in fungicides,” says Finlay. “BASF and Bayer have come out with some new ones in the past few years and Syngenta just came out with one this past year. Up until then it had been about 20 years of the same old metalaxyl products.

“But, as we all know,” he continues. “Mother Nature tends to take care of her own, and pretty soon you’re seeing more and more resistance to various fungicides, so you have got to change them up.”

The growing adoption of insecticide treatments has also been good to Winfield, says Finlay. “Historically speaking, there’s a lot more insecticides being used now, in both the wheat and soybean market,” he says. “The last couple years, we’ve gone from around 35% insecticide use to about 65% to 70%.”

In general, soybean numbers are also up, from 30% of its total beans being treated three years ago to a 90% application rate this season, according to Finlay. He also estimates 99% of the corn seed Winfield sells is treated.

One of the more interesting trends Finlay notes from his 33 years in the seed business is the changing perception of soybeans. “Soybeans traditionally have always been a kind of step-child in ag,” he explains. “The old joke out in the field was always, ‘Oh, you don’t want to buy any beans, do you?’ after buying all your corn seed. But now, it’s more of a ‘Well, here’s your soybeans,’ and the salesman asks “You want the full meal deal on that?’ — which is fungicide, insecticide and the inoculant — the entire package, and now the growers are saying ‘Yeah.’ No question, that is mostly due to $18 beans.”

The price of the seed itself is another reason behind the rapid adoption of seed treatments, according to Finlay. “Thirty years ago, it was $35 for a bag of corn, and guys would say ‘Gee, that’s a lot of money.’ Now it’s about $300-plus a bag, depending on the traits you have, so seed treatment on that is extremely important and a pretty easy sell.”

As for the next big growth area in seed treatments, from the retailer perspective, Finlay sees increased adoption of automated treating systems like Bayer’s On Demand and Agrilead’s NOVO systems.

“As more biologicals and add-ons enter the market, these automated systems are basically the future of seed treatment,” he says. “Especially as more and more retailers are putting on multiple products for a localized prescription, with these systems you just plug those things in and away they go.”

Going forward, properly stewarding this growing segment of ag retail is going to be crucial, especially in terms of keeping increased government regulation to a minimum.

“Right now, the biggest thing in the industry is being environmentally responsible,” says Finlay.

Leave a Reply

Seed/Biotech Stories

Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked Microbial Seed Treatments Result In Increased Yields
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
Seed/BiotechNufarm Introduces New Seed Treatment Solutions
February 3, 2017
Nufarm Americas, Inc. has announced the addition of new, innovative and proven seed treatment solutions to its product portfolio. Promoting Read More
Seed/BiotechAgrisure Viptera Trait Demonstrates Effective Control Of Above-Ground Insects
February 1, 2017
Across the Corn Belt this past season, hybrids containing the Agrisure Viptera trait demonstrated effective control of above-ground insects in Read More
Syngenta plant
Seed/BiotechSyngenta AI Challenge To Address World Hunger With Machine Learning
January 31, 2017
Syngenta and the AI for Good Foundation have partnered to launch the Syngenta AI Challenge, a new international competition focused Read More
Trending Articles
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Latest News
ManagementSouth Africa Update and the New New Leader G5
February 24, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Dan Jacobs discuss the recent visit to South Africa by sister magazine AgriBusiness Global and the Read More
Fall Creek Watershed
StewardshipUpdate: Nutrient Stewardship In Indiana Requires Cool, …
February 24, 2017
Update: The application deadline for NCRS funding has been extended to March 17, 2017. Green leaves sparkle in the sunlight. Trees Read More
Greenleaf Technologies TADF03-D Dual Fan Nozzle
NozzlesSix Greenleaf Nozzles Approved For XtendiMax With Vapor…
February 22, 2017
Greenleaf Technologies has announced that six of its TurboDrop D Series nozzles have been approved for use with Monsanto’s XtendiMax Read More
Winter Wheat
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Hires Manitoba And Eastern Canada Account Man…
February 22, 2017
Tiger-Sul, a global leader in sulphur fertilizers and crop performance products, has announced that sales veteran Trevor Loewen has joined Read More
NFMS 17 Hagie Sprayer
Eric SfiligojThe Read From Louisville: Uncertain
February 22, 2017
By the time this column appears across the country, the annual Commodity Classic will be in full swing. This means Read More
SprayersApache 1000 Series Sprayer Earns 2017 EquipmentWatch Hi…
February 21, 2017
ET Works has been named a winner in the 2017 EquipmentWatch Highest Retained Value Awards program, the industry’s only award Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
StewardshipMeister Media Among 2017 Award Winners Presented By The…
February 21, 2017
The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) held its annual conference in San Diego, CA, earlier this month where three awards were Read More
John Reifsteck
CropLife 100GROWMARK’s Reifsteck Earns NCFC Director Of The Y…
February 21, 2017
GROWMARK Chairman of the Board and President John Reifsteck has earned the prestigious Director of the Year Award from the Read More
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts …
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmatio…
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by S…
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
ManagementFebruary Road Trip Edition
February 17, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent visits to Indiana and Kentucky. Read More
Heritage Cooperative Finished Building Aerial
ManagementHeritage Cooperative, Agland Co-op Approve Merger
February 17, 2017
Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative stockholders have both approved the merger agreement between Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative. Now begins Read More
LegislationARA Fly-In: Ag Retail Descends on Capitol Hill, Lawmake…
February 15, 2017
More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in, according to a Read More
Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked M…
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
NL5000 With G5 Technology
SpreadersNew Leader Introduces NL5000 Dry Nutrient Applicator Wi…
February 13, 2017
New Leader, a division of Highway Equipment Company (HECO), has announced the next generation of spreading technology with the NL5000 Read More
Fertilizer Storage
Crop InputsThe State Of The Fertilizer Industry
February 9, 2017
He’s all hat, no horse.” It’s a humorous way of describing a person who tells a good story, but is Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Agrees To Credit Agreement Amendme…
February 9, 2017
Pinnacle Operating Corp. has entered into an amendment (the “Amendment”) to its First Lien Credit Agreement that will provide for, Read More