As farms increase in size and complexity, so does their ability to vertically integrate. With wheat, for example, this might mean processing, milling and sacking flour for distribution to retailers downstream. But when looking upstream, this might mean treating seed on farm.
Without doing much research or understanding that “precision” has also been adopted by the seed treatment industry, this might seem like a worthwhile investment, but there are six key reasons why farmers should consider leaving the application of seed treatments to seed retailers and distributors. These include the following.
Access to advanced seed treatment technology. Farmers might have difficulty acquiring the most recent seed treatment formulas and technologies. That’s one reason why generics are so popular. For example, recently a new seed treatment product was pulled from shelves, reportedly due to some rashes. Now this formulation is only to be applied in closed systems, ensuring that no one touches it and limiting it to only the more technologically advanced treaters.
Access to the latest equipment application techniques. The equipment sold to those who wish to treat on farm is often not the newest technology. Farmers who do this sacrifice automation and accuracy.
Access to customer service. For most, planting season is already a stressful time of the year, trying to ensure the crop gets in the ground as soon as weather conditions permit without incident. This can be a few hundred acres, but for many, it’s thousands of acres. If anything would go wrong in the seed treatment process, either an equipment breakdown or faulty application, who will be there to troubleshoot or make good? That, too, would now be in the hands of the farmer.
Disposal of leftover seed treatment chemicals. Many seed retailers and distributors do enough volume that leftovers can be returned to point of purchase; however, many farmers would not have the volumes needed to afford this service aspect.
Seed handling equipment. Unfortunately, most on-farm equipment is not designed for the most gentle handling of seed. Without special seed handling equipment, farmers increase the risk of damaging the seed. This could result in a lower germination rate, and ultimately a lower yield.
Stewardship. This is a word that has earned a great deal of attention for the seed treatment industry during the past decade. The industry has put in place best seed treatment practices to ensure proper stewardship. This means increased documentation, minimizing dust-off and increasing safety to both humans and the environment. Many on-farm systems do not easily meet these standards.
Remember: If you use advanced seed treatment equipment and demonstrate the benefits, farmers will see the value. You must first provide a good product and you must be able to articulate those benefits. If not, you risk losing a customer.