The expansion of farmers planting treated soybean seed coincides with the addition of more seed treatment products being available and ag retailers proving the value of these treatments. Agronomy specialists have shown results with side by side local trial plots.

Yield is the final determinant of whether a farmer will use a seed treatment and keep using it, noted Ryan Wermert, Effingham Equity seed department manager. “Customers are seeing a lot more benefit in planting treated beans, and in turn, we are selling quite a bit more treated beans than we have in the recent past,” the Illinois manager said.

Seed treatment compounds have to prove themselves before being recommended by the E_ ngham Equity sales agronomists. “This year we are checking out Poncho/ VOTiVO to see what it brings to the table,” Wermert noted.

Poncho/VOTiVO, the combination of Poncho insecticide and VOTiVO, is a biological seed treatment that helps prevent nematode damage. Wermert combined Poncho/VOTiVO with Acceleron fungicide in a halfdozen field trials tested against untreated soybeans and fungicide-only treated soybeans.

“From what we’ve seen, the treated compared to the untreated had quite a bit better early stand. And then from the Poncho/ VOTiVO compared to the straight fungicide treatment, there was quite a bit of difference with less bean leaf beetle feeding on the Poncho/VOTiVO plants,” Wemert said.

He also noted, “I’m sure that nematodes can do a lot of damage that we don’t even know about because we don’t see much in the way of visible symptoms.”

If the two-way combination proves itself, then Wermert expects to treat seeds using Poncho/VOTiVO next year, and isn’t afraid of being able to properly treat the beans with the small volume needed to coat each seed.

Today’s newer seed treatment compounds are labeled in terms of milligrams of active ingredient per seed. Minimum requirements for downstream seed treating equipment are a seed wheel, atomizer and seed drum.

“In the past, flow-through older seed application technology was good enough for applying fungicides and inoculants by hundredweight of seed,” said Kerry Grossweiler, SeedGrowth equipment and coatings manager, Bayer CropScience.

Today, the highly sophisticated seed treating system for downstream treating is the On Demand system developed by Bayer CropScience. “What we have really done is downscaled our commercial equipment that is used by seed companies to commercially treat all their seed corn or canola,” Grossweiler said.

“Downstream seed treating has exploded in the past five years,” Grossweiler said. “Now, more than 70 percent of all soybeans are treated with a fungicide and over 50 percent are treated with an insecticide.”

Multiple products applied on each bean is the norm these days. It is common for three to five products to be applied because many more products are on the market, including Poncho/VOTiVO and other biologicals, inoculants and nutritionals. Bayer CropScience is trying to educate ag retailers/seed dealers to be prepared to treat seed using the ultimate equipment to help them be set for years to come.

Grossweiler explains that the On Demand system is high precision for multiple products of low-use-rate chemistry, allows for preloaded computerized recipes of weighed chemistry (not volume measured), has reporting capabilities for a print-out of pounds of seed treated with specific compounds and the per seed milligrams applied, and is a closed system for minimizing potential operator chemical contact.

Grossweiler notes that skilled operators are still needed, “Due to changing environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity, there is a certain amount of art to operating any type of seed treater, even the On Demand system.”