Jeff Elwer Owner and Professional Engineer, EES Companies

With the announcements of numerous acquisitions and mergers over the preceding year, the seed industry has witnessed and is poised to experience numerous high-profile transitions in the near and long-term. These headline grabbing shifts within the seed industry often take precedence and obscure additional trends impacting the practical functionality of facility design, operation, maintenance, and output.
What significant trend is impacting, or will impact, your facility? How can integrating innovation and engineering solutions improve the quality of your output? Here are some considerations about the increasingly complex applications of seed treatments.

Increasing Complexity Increases Issues

Seed treatments and their applications are becoming increasingly complex, often requiring specific, multi-step formulas and application processes tailored to specific geographic conditions or proprietary and brand-specific innovations. As applications become more complex, and ingredients more numerous, corresponding issues become more likely.
The challenge of consistent treatment coverage, dust off, sticking and clumping, treatment transference, and plant flowability become more pronounced as application processes become increasingly complex. These challenges impact not only the operational efficiency of your facility, but also the quality of your seed and the planting efficiency experienced by your customers.

Improving Quality with Innovation and Technology

At EES, we have seen several innovations in equipment design to address the issues that are arising from increasingly complex treatment applications. These innovations are being incorporated into drum, continuous, and batch treatment equipment, providing facilities flexibility to meet their specific needs.
The integration of treating and drying processes into an individual piece of equipment or system delivers and applies precise rates of chemical, polymer, colorant, or other active ingredients consistently before removing introduced moisture, providing a finish polish, and prepping the seed for the next stage of treatment within the same piece of equipment. Attention to  both the treatment and drying process in a system reduces the rate of clumping, reduces transference from improperly dried seed further downstream, and consolidates clean-out and maintenance.
The integration of innovative equipment into your facility should be weighted with your specific goals and needs, which sometimes requires a system-wide analysis and assessment. Considering your entire facility as a system of co-dependent parts, we recommend looking upstream to assess opportunities to improve processes through engineering improvements to facility design and assessing appropriate equipment integration to improve flowability and ultimately quality.
Equipment is one of many considerations to optimize facility operation and product quality. The trend of increasingly complex treatment applications is unlikely to change, but some equipment manufacturers are responding to this challenge with innovative solutions designed to improve application processes and seed quality, ultimately increasing customer satisfaction. Working with an experienced partner like EES assures equipment and facility decisions respond to immediate needs and anticipate future opportunities.