It’s no secret that one of the fastest growing areas of agriculture has been seed treatment. From humble beginnings — with ag retailers mixing seed and chemicals by hand to today’s fully-closed automated seed treatment systems — the marketplace has now grown into a $2.6 billion global business.
“There has been very explosive growth in seed treatment the past 10 years,” says Kerry Grossweiler, SeedGrowth equipment and coatings manager for Bayer CropScience. “We expect there to be the same level of growth over the next three to five years as well, if things are not growing at an even faster rate.”
A New Name
Reflecting on this anticipated growth, Bayer CropScience has launched a new name for its seed treatment business called Bayer SeedGrowth. As Grossweiler explains: “Bayer CropScience is proud to be the only company that offers a fully-integrated and comprehensive systems for on-seed applications.”
In its business model, Bayer SeedGrowth offers four segments to its customers. The first is products that can serve as seed treatments such as Poncho/VOTiVO. “These are high demand products for both corn and soybeans that provide insect protection for the seed, as well as a biological component that grows as the roots develop to provide protection against nematodes,” says Grossweiler. “Future biological pest solutions for its seed treatment business will come in part from Bayer CropScience’s 2012 acquisition of AgraQuest, which the company has renamed Biologics,” he adds.
The second and third parts of Bayer SeedGrowth’s business are coatings and equipment. “These work in conjunction with one another, as the coatings provide flowability of the seed through the seed treating equipment,” says Grossweiler.
Finally, there’s service. “For customers of Bayer SeedGrowth, we provide all the testing of products and training they will need to be successful in their seed treating needs,” he says.
At present, says Greg Reineccius, mechanical engineer of seed treatment equipment, all engineering, testing and nearly all of the manufacturing and assembling are processed through the Shakopee, MN, facility.
“We’ve been in this 125,000-square-foot complex since 2000, but they have been making seed treating equipment in previous Minnesota and North Dakota locations since 1917,” says Reineccius. “Here, we make all kinds of seed treating equipment, from large commercial units used by the seed producers to smaller downstream product such as the On Demand system.”
Since its introduction in 2011, adds Grossweiler, the On Demand system has become a very popular seed treatment unit with Bayer customers. “On Demand is a fully automated, closed system that ensures seed treatment products are applied correctly and consistently to the seeds,” he says. “The system comes with pre-loaded product drums, which eliminates the need for hand mixing and minimizes environmental and human exposure to seed treatment products.”
In addition, he adds, On Demand can be used for inventory control purposes. “The system features proprietary software with a Website and two-way communication capabilities,” says Grossweiler. “This allows the unit to easily transfer information and troubleshooting can be performed by users using a tablet or smartphone.”
With the name change, says Grossweiler, Bayer SeedGrowth is positioning itself to be a one-stop destination for customers looking for seed treatment options. Next up for the company is a new product to prevent Sudden Death Syndrome as an on-seed application, which should be ready for the 2015 planting season if all the regulatory approvals go well.