DECEMBER 2018 SEEDWORLD.COM / 39 TIP dust management systems in treatment facilities, as well as with machinery on the farm. Some applicators who have been working with treated seed for many years have been able to compare newer tech- nologies to older products. “If they handled some of the older for- mulations, it’s easy to see these are better in terms of the amount of dust and ease of use,” Baker says. “It’s a cleaner working environment, especially when engineered formulations are used in combination with the new polymer technologies, which ensure the chemical stays on the seed during bagging and transport.” Baker says awareness for validated recipes is also on the rise. “Because of the several quality assess- ment tests that we do, we have seen a great improvement in the user experience of seed treatment products,” he says. “We have also seen a great response to those recipes from customers.” Storage Proper labeling and storage is also important. One of the goals of the Seedcare Institute is to provide a proper testing facility for variables that occur in the real world, so that product recipes can be perfected. “One of the things we had an issue with a few years ago was the temperatures going from cold to hot very quickly,” Dahl says. “The beans heated up and got a little sweaty, so that required a lot of testing for us to determine the best course of action when issues like that happen. “The facility has temperature-con- trolled rooms that can mimic those situ- ations. This allows us do the necessary research to make the best recommenda- tions to our dealers for how to keep that treatment on the seed and keep farmers planting during the busy spring season.” Handling From the grower standpoint, the design of many new planters has greatly reduced any dust-off risk or exposure from treated seed. “These new machines have been designed so any dust goes down and not up,” DeMarchi says. Seed flow lubricants have also greatly improved stewardship in this phase of the process. One of the main concerns with on- farm handling is the proper cleanup of spills, because of the temptation for wild- life to snack of spilled seeds. “Seed spilled on the ground is attrac- tive for birds, but because of the treat- ment, it is a potential risk, so those must be properly cleaned up,” DeMarchi says. Awareness “One of our jobs is making people aware, which we do through social media chan- nels, farm radio campaigns, and through information given out at state and regional grower meetings,” DeMarchi says. Baker adds that Syngenta’s training programs are especially helpful. “We are able to bring customers to our Seedcare Institute at Stanton, Minn., to do hands-on training, and our application specialists also travel to do classes out in the field. The idea is to create awareness around best practices and teach how to handle the products safely,” Baker says. The response from training programs has been positive. As Dahl says, farmers are usually eager to learn how to best protect their seed investments. “These treatments are the most pre- cise way to protect seeds and seedlings from early season pests below the soil,” DeMarchi says. “They are very targeted solutions, and the benefit for protecting the seed is tremendous.” It’s important to remember that seed treatments can’t work if they aren’t actu- ally on the seed. “There is no way to recover a crop if the seedling is destroyed, other than replanting,” DeMarchi says. “The use of seed treatments has greatly increased the percentage of seedlings that ultimately result in a healthy plant.” Dahl also knows these considerations are not just about safety. It’s also about economics. “Farmers are acutely aware of the importance of maximizing the efficacy of seed treatments,” Dahl says. “They spend a lot of money on that seed, maybe $150 an acre for corn and $50 or $60 an acre for soybeans. They are invested in keep- ing that product where it belongs — on the seed in the ground.” Baker says it’s important to recognize the long-term significance of following guidelines as well. “We want to ensure the safety of these products, but also protect the choice to use them,” Baker adds. “If they aren’t used cor- rectly, we risk losing the opportunity to use such innovative technologies in the future. A safe, sustainable future is the goal.” In the end, it all comes back to creat- ing a sustainable future for agriculture. It’s in everyone’s best interest to keep seed stewardship top of mind. “We make our living off of the land, and we need to steward our technologies to protect that,” Dahl says. SW It’simperativethatasanindustrywetakeaproactiveapproachinprotecting Through her work at the American Seed Trade Association, Jane DeMarchi, vice president of government and regulatory affairs, says seed treatment stewardship is a must.