The development of a “Fluency Agent” for reducing planter dust by Bayer CropScience is an example of the company focusing on an issue rather than only on new active ingredients and seed traits.

We don’t focus our research and development efforts solely on our product pipeline, or for that matter, the crop protection industry. Instead, we take a more holistic view. For example, when we became aware that dust emissions from planting treated seed with vacuum planters could have potential, acute effects on honey bees, we took a closer look at the issue.

The use of lubricants, such as talc or graphite, is a standard recommendation by planter equipment manufacturers to help reduce friction and improve planting uniformity. Two years ago, we started a project to develop and evaluate a “low-dust” alternative to talc and graphic lubricants used in corn and soybean planting.

As a result, we developed a new polyethylene wax product called Fluency Agent. In laboratory tests, the new Fluency Agent had a significant decrease in dust:

  • ninety percent reduction in total dust vs. talc
  • sixty percent reduction in total dust vs. graphite

Bayer ready to introduce planter Fluency AgentIn the spring of this year, we conducted extensive field testing of this product throughout the U.S. and Canada. The purpose of the field testing was to determine the commercial viability of the new Fluency Agent under “real-world” conditions.

Dozens of growers participated in the field trials in 2013 by using the product as they planted thousands of acres of corn and soybean. Based on their feedback, growers thought the Fluency Agent was better or equal to the talc or graphite lubricant they were currently using.

Bayer CropScience is collaborating with a diverse group of stakeholders including growers, equipment manufacturers and seed companies to determine the feasibility of bringing the Fluency Agent to market in 2014.

The development of the new Fluency Agent is just the latest example of our 25-year commitment to developing products and solutions that help foster sustainable agriculture and collaboration among stakeholders concerned about bee health. 

William Hairston is director, product development, Seed Growth, Bayer CropScience North America.