Growing The Future Of Seed Treatment Equipment
Seed treatment application technology has improved significantly in the last few years. The equipment has gone from a gross application of ounces per hundred weight of seed to a precise one of milligrams per individual seed. These advances have come through the use of improved equipment.
The most recent advancement in seed treatment technology is the development of closed systems for both small and large retail operations that make atomized spray applications. Sophisticated electronic controls can apply multiple custom treatments to a batch of seed, minimizing or eliminating the use of water, which can reduce seed quality and germination. The systems limit applicator exposure, adjust rates to the specific size of the seed and permit traceability of treated seed.
A Look At The Suppliers
Four main companies offer most of the seed treatment equipment options — USC, AgriLead, Bayer SeedGrowth and KSi. Here’s a look at what they are offering now.
USC brought the first treater to market more than 15 years ago with patented technology and has recently introduced its fourth-generation LPV treater. Based in Northeastern Kansas, USC is an international manufacturer of custom seed treatment equipment and the only full-service operation of its kind, says the company.
“The seed treater is the heart of any treating facility, and USC prides itself on engineering, developing and bringing the best-selling treaters, along with all the accompanying equipment, to both the commercial and downstream markets,” says Todd Grimes, USC vice president of sales and marketing.
USC’s current offerings include the LPV, LPX and LPH commercial seed treaters, portable seed treaters, as well as a tabletop version, dry additive feeder and atomizer.
From an equipment perspective, Agrilead’s growing portfolio includes the NOVO Seed Care Prescription Management System. This automates the prescription build of a seed treatment slurry, documents the batch and supports the recordkeeping requirements of the treatment operation. Other equipment products include the EZ-MIZER aftermarket atomizing upgrade and the PIXY dry applicator.
Bayer SeedGrowth has the On Demand system, which Kerry Grossweiler, seed growth equipment and coating product manager, says provides a customized seed application technology platform to best meet a retailer’s needs.
“The leading-edge On Demand system offers a number of key improvements over traditional seed treatment equipment,” says Grossweiler. “Foremost, the system is fully-automated and completely closed. Pre-loaded, bulk product containers eliminate inaccuracies caused by traditional hand mixing, and the system is operated by a control panel for precise application, resulting in evenly coated seeds.”
This system, which is accessible by smartphone and PC, has several automated features designed to minimize potential downtime and ensure continued efficient application of seed treatment products. Grossweiler says that some of the most notable of these include alerts when an element of the systems need attention, inventory alerts, two-way communication with treating facilities and software updates.
“In addition, the On Demand control panel allows users to select multiple preloaded customer-specific recipes, view reports and monitor inventory,” he says.
At KSi, the company offers custom bulk seed systems, conveyors and seed treaters. Its seed treater, which debuted at farm shows in 2013, is called the KSi 4808NGA Seed Applicator. A special feature of the applicator is a patent-pending squeegee that eliminates the chemical residue that often sticks to the side of the calibration tube and makes the liquid level hard to see.
“KSi Bulk Seed Treatment Sites are designed to handle and treat your seed quickly while maintaining seed quality and providing the operator a safe and convenient operating environment,” says Rick Smith, KSi national marketing director. “KSi bulk seed team builds custom bulk seed systems to transport and treat seed on-site and on demand.”
KSi systems integrate seed treating equipment from many brands in the industry, not just its own, and Smith says this approach is an unique advantage for the company’s customers. “One of the things we’re able to do is come at the seed industry holistically,” he says. “From seed handling to chemical application to just how that seed treatment operation is going to most effectively work for our customers, we have a solution for it.”
While KSi sets itself apart with a holistic approach, Grossweiler says that Bayer SeedGrowth distinguishes itself by offering expertise and tailor-made solutions in its four competence areas: Products, coatings, equipment and services.
“Bayer is the only company in the industry with a fully-integrated and comprehensive system for on-seed applications,” he says.
Giving the grower the freedom to operate is the core value Agrilead uses to separate its offerings from the competition.
“We feel strongly enough about freedom to operate that we put it on our demo van,” says Jeff Ochampaugh, president. “Agrilead operates independently of the basic manufacturers of EPA-registered products, which means our focus is based upon building companion products and equipment compatible with the very broad range of industry products and commercial interests that exist within the seed care industry.”
Agrilead’s NOVO Seed Care Prescription Management System is designed to be used with any brand of seed treating system and with any seed treatment product that is labeled for application as a seed treatment slurry.
USC’s Grimes says that the company’s reputation for affordable quality equipment is what sets its products apart from the competition. “Our equipment is intuitive and user-friendly, but also configurable to grow alongside any treating facility, giving each operation additional value,” he says. “Our goal is to provide the most accurate equipment because at the end of the day, everyone relies on application accuracy with complete and polished coverage, and we’re proud to stand behind, and continually improve upon, the best equipment available.”