As seed has become one of a customer’s biggest investments each season, more soybean growers are doing everything they can to maintain their seed return on investment (ROI). This protection starts with effective seed treatments. This was the subject of a recent CropLife Media Group Webinar, “How to Use Seed Treatments to Improve Your Business,” sponsored by Inovate Seed Protectant from Valent.
The webinar included information on recent research on seed protection and inoculants, how to talk to customers about treatment recommendations and how seed protection can support profits and ROI for ag retailers and their customers.
Know Your Seed Protectants, Know Your Customers’ Needs
During the Webinar, speakers discussed a number of issues and approaches retailers should take into account when discussing seed protection with their customers. For many, this starts with choosing a seed protection product. Experts encourage retailers to consider the following when evaluating different seed protection products:
- Early-season vigor/stand counts and yield results: At the heart of seed protection is providing the insect and disease control needed to give the seed a fighting chance at emergence and early-season growth. For many retailers, two of the best indicators of a seed protectant’s performance are vigor and stand counts. Retailers should examine how a seed protectant performs in their customers’ areas, review industry and university data and remember to study end-of-season yield reports for how well a product can work for their customers.
- Pest spectrum: Which early-season insects and diseases are especially problematic in your area? Rhizoctonia? Fusarium? Wireworm? Bean leaf beetle? Retailers and treaters who understand the history of pest pressure in their customers’ fields as well as current trends in neighboring regions are better able to select seed protectants proven as best suited for the likely pressure in their areas.
- Multiple modes of action: Resistance is top-of-mind for many growers and a number of seed protection products now include two or more active ingredients with varying modes of action (MOA). A seed protection product with multiple MOAs not only protects the seed from different pests, but also sets the foundation for an IPM-based crop protection strategy for the entire season.
- Fungicide/insecticide combos: Similar to multiple MOAs, many seed protectants offer both disease and insect protection in a single product — providing broader spectrum protection right from the start of the season. Retailers should again consider the needs of the customer and the overall customer operation when considering the spectrum of the product.
- Flowability (in treater and in planter), polymers and packaging: Regardless of how a seed protectant performs in the field, many retailers and seed treaters understand the importance of an easy-to-use, easy handling seed protectant on the treating floor and in the planter. Some products are now available in all-in-one packages, which means less hassle and room for mixing errors. Additionally, some systems use polymers to coat the seed, helping improve the flowability of the material through machinery, including planters.
A Seed Treatment Q&A
Attendees asked the experts a number of key questions during the one-hour informative presentation. One of the speakers during the event was Dr. Jim Beuerlein, a former professor of agronomy and Extension specialist with The Ohio State University. Here, we present just a sampling of those questions posed to Dr. Beuerlein and his answers.
Question: From the university perspective, how do you feel seed treatments provide solid ROI for users?
Jim Beuerlein: People often get hung up on statistics to whether something is profitable or not. I don’t pay as near as much attention to statistics when I’m looking at fungicides and inoculants. I much rather look at it from the profitability point of view. Inoculation may not always produce a statistically significant yield increase, but it will be profitable over time. And really that’s the bottom line.
Q: Does residual nitrogen have an impact on the effectiveness of inoculants?
JB: Yes, it can have an effect. You’re going to get nodules no matter how much residual nitrogen you have. Too much nitrogen can reduce the number of nodules per plant and their activity.
Q: Are there any interactions to be concerned about if you’re using different products with inoculants?
JB: Some fungicides or their carriers may be toxic to Rhizobia. That’s why you really need to read the label guidelines as to mixing and treating soybeans with various seed treatment products. The inoculation companies have looked at each of their products with all of the current fungicides and insecticides, so they know how their products work in combination with them.
Q: What is the difference between inoculants and biologicals?
JB: Well, inoculants ARE biological. And you are seeing a lot of these products coming into the market.