Bayer: Growers, Honeybees Will Love Our New Planter Lubricant

As part of its commitment to sustainable agriculture, Bayer CropScience today announced very favorable field trial results of its new seed application technology, which is designed to further reduce potential dust exposure to honey bees during a typical planting process, while offering improved handling efficiencies to corn farmers.

The use of lubricants, such as talc and graphite, are a standard recommendation by seed planter manufacturers to reduce friction and improve uniformity, but recent scientific publications on this topic have triggered a debate as to the relationship between the already low level of exposure of dust from these planters and potential acute effects on bees. As an alternative, the new Bayer fluency agent – made of a polyethylene wax substrate – was shown to significantly decrease dust and emissions during laboratory testing:

  • Ninety percent reduction in total dust versus talc.
  • Sixty percent reduction in total dust versus graphite.

To follow up on the promising laboratory research, this past spring, Bayer conducted large-scale field studies – covering more than 40,000 acres – throughout North America with growers and in collaboration with major planter manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada. The purpose of these trials was to evaluate the new fluency agent’s commercial viability under field conditions.

“We were impressed by the success of this new fluency agent when we examined the field trial results,” said Bill Hairston, director of product development, SeedGrowth, Bayer CropScience. “Although potential exposure from corn planting is relatively rare, cooperation among applicators, growers and beekeepers is a critical part of effective best-management practices for seed treatment applications and important for pollinator health.”

Based on feedback, growers who participated in the trials thought the new fluency agent:

  • Performed equal to or better than comparable talc or graphite lubricants.
  • Was less dusty during application and was easier to avoid dust when checking boxes.
  • Showed equivalent results at significantly lower use rates than talc when comparing planting uniformity.

When asked to describe his experience with the Bayer fluency agent, Ed Benjamins, a grower from Ontario, Canada said, “It’s pretty simple really; easy to apply, a lot smaller quantity. It worked equal or better than regular talc; absolutely no issues whatsoever.”

Bayer will finalize its analysis of the results of the field trials and work with growers, planter equipment manufacturers and other stakeholders to determine the commercial viability of its fluency agent.

Bayer has been actively involved in finding solutions to improve honey bee health for more than 25 years. Its Bee Care Program includes initiatives designed to further bee health research, engagement and discussion and bring Bayer’s extensive experience and knowledge in bee health under one platform. Bee Care Program initiatives include:

  • Bayer’s participation in National Pollinator Week continued to raise awareness about the importance of honey bees to agriculture through a reception on the Hill, employee family day, inaugural community leadership award and second annual Pollinator Pledge.
  • The North American Bee Care Center, which broke ground in May at the North American Bayer CropScience Headquarters in Research Triangle Park, NC, will aid the advancement of honey bee research by providing a state-of-the-art facility to support worldwide bee health initiatives.
  • The Bee Care Tour, a mobile exhibit which traveled to Midwestern university agriculture schools this spring to foster education and collaboration among growers, beekeepers, researchers and others interested in honey bee health.
  • The Bee Ambassador Program, a field staff training campaign dedicated to cultivating dialogue and awareness around topics related to honey bee management and health.

Bayer is dedicated to crop protection and is committed to environmental stewardship and sustainable agricultural practices, including the protection of beneficial insects such as honey bees.

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