Seed Treatment Safety Studies Provide a Key Performance Check

- DaNell Jamieson

Seed safety studies play an important role in ensuring that seed treatment manufacturers are delivering a product to the end user that’s going to perform as expected over an extended period of time.

It’s necessary to look at how a new active ingredient or the combination of seed treatments affects seed quality, especially germination and vigor. A standard seed safety study can verify previous research and serve as a quality control checkpoint, depending on the job at hand. Seed safety studies are used to compare the impact of different treatment combinations or new formulations on germination and seed vigor over a specified period of time.

For me, it’s important to first listen to what a customer wants to accomplish and look at their needs, and then design an experiment that will put it to the test. Depending on the intent of the experiment, we often select one hybrid or one variety for consistency, and we ask for seed from both high-quality and low-quality lots.

Contingent on the industry practice for seed storage of the crop evaluated, we may design a shorter or longer duration of the study — 12 months versus 24 months if looking at treatment effect on storability. We will plant an untreated control and conduct both warm (germination) and vigor tests prior to the treatment and after the treatment.

A company may want to examine how the treated seed responds to: changes in ambient temperature, storage conditions and different genetics. Or does the active ingredient in any way negatively or positively impact seed quality? There are many factors to consider and an experiment can be designed to examine exactly what it is you’re trying to pinpoint, or it can be a broader experiment looking at the total effect.

If you want to initiate a standard seed safety study, I would allow three months lead time, as we’ll need to setup the design, get the seed in house, select the hybrid or variety, test the seed, treat it and plant it.

Standard seed safety studies give companies confidence in how the seed will perform under real growing conditions. Why gamble on your customer’s satisfaction? Why not know how your seed treatment will perform?