Jim Schweigert President, Gro Alliance

A third-generation seedsman, Jim Schweigert grew up in the family seed business and was exposed to industry issues at an early age. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of Minnesota and worked for corporate public relations firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta before joining the family business full time in 2003. He has since been active in the American Seed Trade Association, the Independent Professional Seed Association and earned his master’s in seed technology and business from Iowa State University. As president, Schweigert manages client contracts and crop planning, as well as business development and new market opportunities. His unique background and experience make him one of the seed industry’s leaders in innovation. As such, he was honored as Seed World’s 2009 Future Giant and currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Seed Programs International.

Your favorite team is down by one and has the ball with the clock winding down. A shot goes up while the last seconds tick away. The ball hangs in the air, hits the rim and bounces up. Whether it goes in or not decides which team advances in the tournament. Victory or defeat is determined by the smallest of margins. Basketball is truly a game of inches.

In seed, the stakes are higher and margin for error is smaller. Research has shown that planting seed with uniform spacing has a high correlation to top yields. To achieve that, farmers have to have the right equipment, set the right way and operated in the proper manner. The farmer also needs seed that is exactly what the bag says it is, so the planter can be adjusted to the proper settings. The planting area isn’t maximized if spacing is too wide and plants will compete for limited resources if the spacing is too close. Both of these situations will reduce yield potential for a given field and a given crop.

New technology in yield monitors and singulation meters now allow farmers to better track and compare the planting precision of one seed brand to another. Seed truly is a game of millimeters.

The most important conditioning step for delivering accurate and precise seed sizes is grading/sizing. When making a grade size (say a 24/20 in corn) you need millimeter precision to make sure only 24/20 grade size corn is in the bag. To do this, cylinder sizing is preferred to flat sizing. Flat sizing systems are less expensive, but they don’t create the proper seed presentation to the screens to ensure accurate and precise grading. New precision sizing screens should feature technology designed to create the proper seed presentation in the cylinder and ensure every hole is punched to sub-millimeter accuracy. If the hole sizes aren’t uniform, the seed won’t be either. Also, make sure the grader screen hole sizes are measured every year as the holes can expand over time due to normal use. Finally, adding automatic screen roller-cleaners will ensure that each hole is unobstructed and available for sizing at all times.

By using the proper sizing equipment and screens you’ll give your company its best chance to meet farmers’ high expectations and win the game of millimeters!