CropLife Foundation (CLF) announced that it will publish a comprehensive report in the spring 2013 titled, “The Role of Precision Seed Protection in Modern Crop Production.” The report closely examines research from case studies conducted throughout the U.S. and outlines the benefits of using pesticides for sustainable crop production. Preliminary findings of the report were presented at the American Seed Trade Association Corn & Sorghum and Soybean Seed Research Conference and Seed Expo 2012. Jay Vroom, chairman of the board of directors of CLF, introduced the report during the Dec. 6 conference general session.

“Precision seed protection, as part of an integrated pest management system and when combined responsibly with other crop protection products, makes it possible for U.S. farmers to grow more resilient crops that can withstand harsh climate conditions and provide consumers more healthy and nutritious food choices,” said Vroom. “CLF looks forward to the publication of this report in the spring and sharing important findings on the benefits of precision seed protection for modern agriculture.”

The report cites many specific benefits for modern crop production as a result of precision seed protection, including:

  • Research demonstrates that the use of precision seed protection in corn results in improved plant health and stress tolerance under drought conditions.
  • Soybean seed treatments reduce the damage caused by soybean cyst nematodes, which can decrease yields by 15 to 30 percent.
  • Modern precision equipment is highly computerized and ensures that seed protection products are applied at the correct rates and leave minimal environmental impact.
  • Precision seed protection increases crop yields, decreases operating costs and encourages other sustainable practices such as no-till farming.

The report states that global precision seed protection sales grew from $700 million in 1997 to $2.25 billion in 2010 and are projected to exceed $3 billion in 2016.

According to the report, the earliest forms of seed treatment appeared in ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations, when growers soaked seeds in onion and cypress sap. Farmers in the 17th century discovered a reduction in crop disease after soaking seeds in sea water and utilized that technique for 100 years. Copper sulfate was a treatment option throughout the 1800s. “Next generation” products were introduced in the 1970s and neonicotinoid insecticides were first registered as seed treatments by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1994. The introduction of these modern products revolutionized seed protection and led to greater populations of healthier, more uniform plants.