Jeff Weber Seed Treatment Lead — Eastern Region, Nufarm Americas

Polymers come from a wide class of chemistries, from sugars and waxes to synthetics and oil. While they are designed to hold active ingredients on the seed, they play a much bigger role when it comes time for farmers to set their planters in the ground.

A good polymer ensures that seeds won’t clump or stick in the planter box, which in turn improves plantability and singulation. Both are increasingly important with the adoption of precision planting and faster planting speeds. With precision planting, farmers depend on the seed to be dropped every few inches. If there are skips or doubles, it negatively impacts yield. Now, that planters are traversing the land at 10-plus miles per hour, it’s even more critical for everything to flow without interruption.

So what does all this mean as we head into this next generation with high-tech seed and genetics? With newer chemistries we treat in parts per million (ppm) compared to the old way of measuring by the hundredweight. Everything, and I mean everything, is much more precise. This means more testing goes on behind the scenes to make sure we’ve got the right polymer, and that the polymer is compatible with the actives, solvents, carriers and formulation as a whole.

For example, a polymer might be friendly with actives in the formulation but not biologicals. There is a great deal of work that goes into making sure a polymer does what it should, and we have to find just the right balance. It can’t take up too much space in the slurry. Once, it’s put on the seed, it can’t have any resistance. It has to work just as good on a warm day as a cold day and the same on a dry day as a humid one.

To help safeguard farmers’ investment, we’ve tested our products in planters, in working conditions.

Aside from plantability, one of the most important tests in today’s environment is the dust test. It can’t rub off. We know we cannot eliminate dust, but we can certainly minimize it. Then, once you get all of this figured out, it must be stable and have a good shelf-life.

In our quest to meet all these demands, we spent several years in identifying the best candidate that performed under both the stringent use and storage conditions these polymers are subjected to. Through this rigorous testing we found that FC Polymer held up to all the standards. Some came close, but only this one delivered the complete package and, while we continue to evaluate new potentials materials, we have found none that surpasses its performance.

While polymers have never been more important when it comes time for planting, we’ve made it so farmers don’t even have to think about it — they’ve got enough on their mind.