Today you’d be hard pressed to find a seed dealer that isn’t downstream treating some quantity of seed — but there’s a growing segment of distributors that are taking seed care to a higher level of customization.
West Central Inc., via its STI Customized program (now in its 5th season), as well as Innvictis Crop Care, LLC., with its Revize Seed Treatment System (est. 2014), are just a couple retail organizations capturing added value for growers in the prescription custom blending arena.
“It’s all about innovation,” says Innvictis’ Jason Mize, seed treatment strategy lead. “You can take a Bayer technology and a Syngenta technology that would normally never be formulated together, and you make a custom blend that nobody else can offer.”
West Central’s Blake Murnan, seed treatment specialist – product development, concurs. “It’s really a 180-degree difference from pre-packaged products,” he says. “In some areas pre-packaged product may be overkill, and in other situations the rate may be under effective. With STI Customized we take a look at the needs of the grower from a customer basis, not just selling product.”
According to Murnan, West Central (Willmar, MN) mainly treats soybeans, wheat and dry beans with a combination of brand name as well as generic products. Murnan says the company is currently working on finalizing an agreement with Bayer CropScience to integrate some of the North Carolina-based manufacturer’s chemistries into unique custom blends alongside different rates of generics from companies such as NuFarm. Trilex FS (trifloxystrobin) as well as a foliar recently labeled for seed treating, Pro Line (propiconiazole), are two of the actives that stick out in his mind when asked for specific products the company has assimilated into its repertoire.
“There are many benefits for the retailer with STI Customized: The product comes ready-to-use at its final slurry rate, so employees that normally would be blending treatments in the spring can focus their efforts elsewhere, and the retailer doesn’t have to worry about disposal of packaging — we take care of all that,” says Murnan. “It’s also more accurate than volumetric dispensing, it saves the retailer money and the potential for over applying product. We like to say that it takes the human error out of treating.”
Mize, who says Innvictis blends Syngenta, Bayer, Valent (including the new ethaboxam-based INTEGO SUITE for 2015) and NuFarm chemistries, as well as others, finds that growers respond well to the variations custom blending brings to their crop protection playbook.
“You’re creating a product that a customer both needs and wants, instead of getting a pre-packaged product from the manufacturer and saying ‘Well, here it is’, and you can tailor the blend to whatever problem you are looking to alleviate — whether in a certain county where one disease is more prevalent than another — and you can really start targeting specific pathogens.”
Murnan points out that plant growth regulators (PGR) and seed-applied nutritionals are in West Central’s immediate plans for expansion in the coming years, and both sources agreed that polymers, colorants and other secondary treatments are an important add-in when creating custom blended treatments.
“Those polymers are extremely crucial with some of the chemistries we are using, and as we get more sensitive to pollinators it’s crazy to not be using polymers,” says Mize. “It’s really no different from spraying glyphosate — you still want to hit the target.”