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

Golden Harvest Corn stalks
Crop InputsMonsanto: Syngenta Not The Only Horse In Crop Protection Acquisition Race
August 28, 2015
Monsanto Co, having ditched an audacious $46 billion (£30 billion) offer for Syngenta AG, may downshift to a humbler strategy Read More
Rendering of Syngenta Seedcare Institute expansion
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Announces Seedcare Application And Resource Center
August 19, 2015
Syngenta recently announced the Seedcare Application and Resource Center, a collaborative new website designed exclusively for Syngenta Seedcare customers to Read More
Rendering of Syngenta Seedcare Institute expansion
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Breaks Ground On $20 Million Expansion Of North America Seedcare Institute
August 11, 2015
The Syngenta North America Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN, one of the premier seed treatment research facilities in the world, Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Petition To Deregulate Dicamba And Glufosinate-Tolerant Corn Now Available For Comment
August 11, 2015
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is making available for public comment a petition from the Monsanto Read More
Top 100 Articles
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
CropLife 100Aligned Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Asmus Farm Supply liquid fertilizer facility features 20,000 square feet
CropLife 100Slideshow: Asmus Farm Supply Shows Off Its New Liquid Fertilizer Facility
July 15, 2015
Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, recently added a new liquid fertilizer facility to its company operations. The new liquid fertilizer Read More
Latest News
EquipmentDeere Announces Soucy Track Distribution Alliance
August 28, 2015
John Deere announces an alliance with Soucy Track to sell and distribute products through the John Deere dealer channel. “This Read More
FertilizerFall-Applied Phosphorus: A Rooted Investment
August 28, 2015
As commodity prices decrease and input prices continue to rise, farmers are seeking more efficient strategies for meeting a high Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsWhat’s Next For Monsanto, Syngenta?
August 28, 2015
After dropping its $47 billion bid to take over Swiss agribusiness firm Syngenta, Monsanto may be turning its focus to Read More
Golden Harvest Corn stalks
Crop InputsMonsanto: Syngenta Not The Only Horse In Crop Protectio…
August 28, 2015
Monsanto Co, having ditched an audacious $46 billion (£30 billion) offer for Syngenta AG, may downshift to a humbler strategy Read More
ManagementConsolidation hits and a miss; And a look at China’s ch…
August 28, 2015
As Monsanto suspends its pursuit of Syngenta, consolidation news at the retail and distribution level heats up. CropLife magazine’s Executive Read More
Corn Field
MicronutrientsHuma Gro Introduces New Boron Liquid Nutrient Formulati…
August 28, 2015
BORO-MAX, a new boron (B) 10% liquid nutrient formulation, has been added to the Huma Gro product line. This new Read More
Crop InputsNFU: Monsanto Decision To Withdraw Syngenta Bid ‘…
August 26, 2015
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said the organization was very pleased by the news that Monsanto has withdrawn Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Withdraws Bid For Syngenta
August 26, 2015
Monsanto Co. abandoned its latest effort to acquire Syngenta AG, the world’s top maker of pesticides, after a sweetened bid Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta Comments On Monsanto Announcement
August 26, 2015
The Board of Syngenta confirms that it received a verbal proposal from Monsanto to acquire the company at a price Read More
Case IH Patriot 2250 Sprayer
EquipmentHigh-powered Case IH Patriot 2250 Sprayer Pushes Throug…
August 26, 2015
Engineered with more muscle, the new 660-gallon-capacity Patriot 2250 sprayer features best-in-class horsepower, along with the fuel efficiency that comes Read More
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
TMX-2050 In-Cab Display Launch Run Screen
Eric SfiligojPrecision Ag Could Shine In Increased Spotlight On Agri…
August 24, 2015
By any measure, 2015 is turning into one of the most challenging years agriculture has ever experienced. All throughout good Read More
ManagementCrop Conditions In Minnesota and Traveling Time
August 21, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiilgoj discuss the crop outlook from a field trip to Minnesota and upcoming travel plans. Read More
HerbicidesREUTERS: Anti-GMO ‘Scientist’ Calls For New…
August 20, 2015
EDITORS NOTE: We feel that it is important to note that there are those that believe one of the lead Read More
Rendering of Syngenta Seedcare Institute expansion
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Announces Seedcare Application And Resource Ce…
August 19, 2015
Syngenta recently announced the Seedcare Application and Resource Center, a collaborative new website designed exclusively for Syngenta Seedcare customers to Read More
Winter Wheat
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Announces Two New Regional Sales Man…
August 19, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced Steve Vining and Phil Reding have each accepted new positions as Regional Sales Managers. Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
Golden Harvest Corn healthy leaves
Industry NewsAligned Ag Distributors Names Vice President, Crop Prot…
August 18, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC have appointed Warren Hragyil to VP Crop Protection. Hragyil comes to Aligned Ag Distributors LLC with Read More