Joseph Zalusky Manager, Eurofins BioDiagnostics’ Analytical Chemistry lab and Custom Seed Treatment Application lab, Eurofins BioDiagnostics

Seed treatment chemicals are applied to seed in order to protect it from pathogens that may damage the seed in storage, during the initial planting of the seed or during the early growth of the seedling. Beyond crop protection, seed treatment chemicals also have been shown to increase germination rates, vigor and root development.

Seed treatment loading rate analysis is used to assist seed producers in determining the accuracy of the application of seed treatment chemicals to a wide variety of seeds. Every seed treatment chemical is registered and labeled for specific types of seed at specified loading rates.

The use of this service is important to ensure the seed is not undertreated and risking loss of protection, or over-treated, which wastes money and affects seed health. There is also the need to comply with local, state and federal laws while managing liability and to protect industry reputation.

During the seed treatment application process, it is crucial to identify and then limit the sources of variability. Some examples of variability in the treating process are the manufacture of seed treatment chemicals, the formulation of the seed treatment solution(s), the mixing of the chemical slurry, the application of the seed treatment slurry and the sampling of the treated seed sent for loading rate analysis. Without understanding the potential sources of variability in the process, it is difficult to ensure the sample sent is representative of the treated seed.

In addition to understanding the sources of variability, good record keeping is also important. Not only does this help the seed producer manage their inventory and process, it also assists in troubleshooting when loading rate analysis results indicate the seed is off-target for chemical loading.

The benefit of understanding the sources of variability and keeping good records is that the amount of seed retreated or discarded due to misapplication of the seed treatment chemicals is limited. Reduced time troubleshooting the application process is also a result, as is a reduction of customer complaints or returned seed.

By streamlining the process, a seed producer should be able to treat more seed accurately in less time with confidence that they are delivering the highest quality product to their customers.