Discovering Common Ground
One of the challenges of working in the global seed industry is the great distances we must travel to cover our vast territories—it’s an extensive marketplace involving most countries around the world. Add to that the differences in culture and core values between countries.
However, from my travels to North and South America, the Baltic countries, India and within Europe, I’ve realized there are more similarities among people and businesses than there are differences. The people I meet and the businesses they own and operate have much common ground, including an aim to provide high-quality products, pride in those products they produce, and prudent resource management.
We have a direct connection to the food industry, so we’re all very quality-minded and we aim for the highest standards in our work and our products. We are also mindful of providing cost-effective solutions for our customers and, ultimately, for the farmer, who is also running a business and must make a profit. Providing high-quality products in an economical manner is a challenge we all face.
Another reality for our industry—and a challenge for most stakeholders—is regulatory compliance. In Europe, products must meet European Union requirements to protect human and animal health, the environment and consumer rights. We must also provide detailed risk analyses for the products we produce.
However, as a European seed treatment equipment company, the regulations we must comply with also provide many business advantages. To sell equipment in Europe, you must be a Certified European manufacturer. The letters “CE” signify products sold in the European Economic Area have been assessed to meet high safety, health and environmental protection requirements.
What this means for our business is all processes, from delivery and installation to handling chemicals and operating equipment, as well as unit disposal, must meet EU regulations. Most importantly, by buying CE-approved equipment, operators know all risks have been considered and they won’t be exposed to chemicals or hurt in any way, no matter where they are in the world.
In fact, European seed companies must buy Certified European equipment in order to install it. However, given the opportunity, I believe the industry would continue to choose equipment made to meet these rigorous standards because businesses want machines to be safe, easy to clean, while operating at minimal risk to health, safety and the environment.
For example, in Europe, seed treatment equipment must operate within closed systems: from the barrel all the way to bagged seed, the operator does not come into contact with the seed treatment chemicals. One dosing system is connected to each slurry or chemical. Chemicals, or products, are mixed in the machine before application.
This also goes hand-in-hand with product quality because machines are easily cleaned and dosing rates are managed within the system, increasing application accuracy. Additionally, the equipment’s sophisticated and regulated system provides statistics on everything from dosing rates to cleaning records. It’s also easier to attract and retain equipment operators for closed systems.
The demand for seed treatments in North and South America, Africa, China and the Baltic countries, to name a few, is large and increasing. There is also an upward trend toward high-volume mobile trailers.
What I’ve discovered from traveling to the countries that make up our markets is the businesses in those countries are actively seeking out equipment that meets the high standards set by EU regulations—yet more common ground across diverse geographic and cultural backgrounds. I believe we will continue to see our industry striving in this way for the protection of human and animal safety and health and the environment.