Biologicals and Seed Treatments: Handle with Care

When it comes to biologicals and seed treatment, it’s best to handle with even more care than usual.

Vince Wertman

Vince Wertman, ABM

“Many biological seed treatment products are live, (and) live biology can be killed and rendered ineffective with improper application and handling,” Vince Wertman, Technical Services Director, ABM, says. “Live biologicals work well but need special attention. Most people will treat biological products improperly unless given correct information.”

The use of a product that has been compromised, Wertman says, can produce inconsistent performance and liability. And some biology, such as rhizobia, he adds, may be more fragile than others.

Wertman details several “fail factors” when it comes to biological seed treatment products:

  • Storage: “Live products are perishable. Sunlight and warm temperature are not ideal. Storage below 77°F is recommended. Most products advise not to freeze.”
  • Water: “Do not use chlorinated water. Chlorination of water is death to a biological product.”
  • Product handling before and after treating: “Many living biological products are in sterile packaging. It is strongly recommended to open only what can be used within the time frame stated on the label to avoid contamination or other degradation of the product.”
  • Atomization: “When using seed treatment equipment to apply live biological products, avoid atomization for maximum life on the seed. Live products can be damaged by shear factors and centrifugal forces. Most recent seed treatment equipment does provide a bypass application port for live inoculant products.”
  • Expired product: “Biological products expire. Every product will have an expiration date printed on the package. It is strongly recommended that you check the package expiration date prior to application.”