Research Article

Seed Coating Formulation Technologies: An Environmental Biology Friendly Approaches for Sustainable Agriculture  

D.K. Hazra1 , P.K. Patanjali2
1 AINP on Pesticide Residue Laboratory, Department of Agricultural Chemicals, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Directorate of Research, Research Complex Building, Kalyani-741235, Nadia, West Bengal, India
2 Institute of Pesticide Formulation Technology (IPFT), Sector-20, Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon-122016, Haryana, India
Author    Correspondence author
Bioscience Methods, 2016, Vol. 7, No. 5   doi: 10.5376/bm.2016.07.0005
Received: 25 Apr., 2016    Accepted: 16 Jul., 2016    Published: 27 Dec., 2016
© 2016 BioPublisher Publishing Platform
This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Preferred citation for this article:

Hazra D.K., and Patanjali P.K., 2016, Seed coating formulation technologies: an environmental biology friendly approaches for sustainable agriculture, Bioscience Methods, 7(5): 1-10 (doi: 10.5376/bm.2016.07.0005)

Abstract

Farmers must meet an array of demands and challenges every day: growing crops that have minimal disease and insect damage, protecting the environment and providing food for communities across the globe. In modern agriculture, farmers pursue continuous improvement through new technologies that help them face these obstacles in a sustainable way. This includes the responsible use of crop protection products (insecticides, herbicides and fungicides), applied to the soil, seeds or the growing crop. Seed treatment specifically refers to the application of chemical products and/or biological organisms to the seed prior to sowing in order to suppress, control or repel pathogens, insects and other pests that attack seeds, seedlings or plants. Seed treatment through seed coating formulations offer an increasingly precise mode of applying products in the field, and provide a high level of protection against insects and disease while reducing potential exposure of humans and the environment to crop protection products.

Keywords
Seed treatment; Seed coat; Suspensions; Dispersible; Emulsion

1 Introduction

Ninety percent of the world’s food crops are grown from seed. Seed treatments play a vital role in controlling early season insects and diseases, as well as improving the stand establishment and vigor of the seedling (Schmitt et al., 2009). Other application techniques used to control many pests, including in-furrow applications or early season foliar sprays, are now being replaced with seed treatments by virtue of their residual systemic efficacy. Seed treatment active ingredients are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). A rigorous, science-based, risk-benefit assessment is conducted by EPA during the registration and development of these active ingredients. After evaluating data from more than 120 scientific tests and determining that the product poses no unreasonable adverse effects on humans or the environment, EPA registers crop protection chemicals for commercialization and use in seed treatments (Jardine, 2013).

 

A critical success factor for the seed treatment market was the development of a complete protection solution against various plant stressors in a single product that is grower-friendly, crop-friendly and environmentally responsible. Growers want a seed treatment that will be rapidly absorbed by the seed coat and plant roots, which then protects the growing plant throughout its susceptible period of development (Tinivella et al., 2009). Modern seed coating formulations must also contribute to improvements in farmers’ and workers’ safety and stewardship of the environment. Today’s modern seed treatment products have to meet high safety and efficacy standards (Gerhardson, 2002). The newest active substances and formulations provide long lasting, broad spectrum, systemic control of diseases and insects (depending on the specific active ingredient). Modern formulated seed coating products used by the farmer, seed treater, and seed producer are often sophisticated with several active ingredients and special wetting agents and colorants that are safe to the seed, the environment and the user (CropLife International/International Seed Federation, 2007).

 

2 Seed Treatment Has a Long History

The earliest reported use of a seed treatment dates back to 60 A.D., when wine and crushed cypress leaves were used to protect seed from storage insects (Gilbert et al., 2005). The active component in this mixture was likely hydrogen cyanide. Fungicide seed treatment had a serendipitous beginning in the 17th century, when wheat seed salvaged from a shipwreck near the United Kingdom grew very well (Jardin, 2013). British agronomist and inventor Jethro Tull recorded: “At the following harvest, all the wheat in England happened to be smutty, except the produce of this brined seed, and that was all clean from smuttiness.”

 

An important breakthrough in seed treatment occurred in 1807, when Benedict Prevost “discovered that the black smut dust, made up of very small spherical objects, would grow if placed in water” and “the spores in water taken from a copper pan either did not germinate or died shortly after germination.” Following up on this clue, Prevost discovered that as little as four parts per million (ppm) of copper sulfate in water would prevent germination of smut spores. Copper sulfate became the treatment of choice for the next 100 years for the control of smuts in small grains, although the lack of seed germination safety for copper sulfate resulted in poor stands from treated seed. Formaldehyde was introduced as a replacement for copper sulfate in 1897, but was not widely used until the start of World War I, when copper was needed for war supplies. Beginning in the 20th century, official seed testing stations were established by the International Seed Testing Association to assess seed purity and quality. Seed treatment insecticides were first used to control stored-seed insects in the 1940s. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, lindane was developed as a seed treatment for the control of soil insects like wireworm. Additional chlorinated hydrocarbon materials used on seed for soil insect control included aldrin, dieldrin and heptachlor. The systemic insecticide disulfoton was introduced in the 1950s as the first widely used systemic seed-applied insecticide for cotton, which is routinely damaged by early season foliar-feeding insects such as thrips. In 1948, a fungicide named Captan was discovered, and in 1950 was introduced as a seed treatment. Captan was a broad-spectrum contact fungicide, and was rapidly introduced to a number of crops, including field corn.

 

The next major change in seed treatment products was the introduction of methyl mercury, which became available as a liquid in the U.S. in 1948. This was an inexpensive liquid that rapidly became the product of choice for small grains seed treatment. Mercury treatments remained popular until the 1970s, when they were identified as having potentially toxic environmental and human safety impacts. In the early 1970s, the first systemic fungicide seed treatment technology for the control of both loose and covered smut was registered in the U.S. Carboxin became the new standard seed treatment fungicide for small grains and other crops (Wise et al., 2009). Several additional systemic fungicides have received EPA approval in the last 40 years. These deliver a higher degree of smut control and actively protect against additional types of smut. A low-use rate (25 ppm) non-systemic broad-spectrum fungicide, fludioxonil, was registered for corn and other crops in the mid-1990s. In 1994, the first neonicotinoid insecticide was registered with the EPA. The introduction of this new generation of precision seed treatment technology changed the seed industry and growers’ appreciation for the importance of seed treatment products (Hahn et al., 2013). Use of these new seed coating products resulted in earlier and faster planting, more uniform emergence, higher plant populations, healthier plants, less insect damage and higher crop yield. Biological seed treatments and plant extracts have entered the seed coating market in recent years and are being used commercially on large amounts of seed (Copping et al., 2000; Spadaro et al., 2005). Some have received EPA registration with specific pest control claims, while others are being sold as yield enhancement products or as products that will improve plant health and vigor (Van der wolf et al., 2008; Begum et al., 2010).

 

3 Global Seed Treatment Market

The seed treatment market is estimated to be valued at $2,798.0 million in 2014 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 10.6% from 2014 to 2019, to be valued $4 635.4 million by 2019 Insecticides form the largest segment of seed treatment market and it accounts for over 50.0% of the market share, among all the applications. North America and Latin America, especially countries such as U.S., Brazil, and Argentina, are the mature markets for seed coating products. Asia-Pacific, especially China and India are projected to be high-growth markets in the near future, subsequent to Latin America. In 2013, Asia-Pacific represents 7.0% share of the global seed treatment market and is projected to reach $341.8 million by 2019.The share of the market for insecticide seed treatments has grown rapidly from about 12% in 1994 due to the introduction of new broad spectrum insecticides, imidacloprid, fipronil and thiamethoxam. However, fungicides still dominate the market for cereal seed coating, while insecticides are more popular in maize, oil seeds, sugar beet and cotton. Market growth is expected to come from seed treatment formulations for soybeans and rice, which have low treatment rates at present and from new technologies linked with GM crops.

 

4 Seed Coating Formulation Types

In the past, the majority of treatments were powders (DS) that were simply dry mixed with the seed, or powders that were slurred (WS) and then sprayed onto the seed before planting (El-Mohamedy et al., 2008). The current trend is towards flow able suspensions (FS) and emulsions (ES) to reduce dust hazards, improve formulation stability and increase adhesion on the seed. The dustiness of water slurriable powder seed treatments can be overcome by converting the formulation into a water dispersible granule (WG) (Alan, 2008). For special seed applications gel formulations are sometimes used. Some seed treatments for higher value cereal seed are also being applied with a polymer film coating. High value seeds, including sugar beet and sunflowers are pelletized and film coated. Pelletizing, encapsulating the seed into a sphere of clay filler, greatly improves the handling characteristics of the seed as well as providing a vehicle for seed treatment chemicals. The film coats tend to be thicker and cover more of the seed as the seed value increases. As chemicals and combinations of chemicals applied to seeds become more sophisticated, formulation development is also becoming increasingly complex to ensure that products are being utilized in the safest and most effective manner. The exact formulation requirements will depend on the products being applied, the target seed, the nature of the application and the equipment used for the application (Alan, 2005). Choice of formulation for seed treatment is usually determined by feasibility of formulation type, suitability of active ingredients, storage stability, application machinery available, distribution on seed, retention on seed, compatibility with other products, clean-up of machinery, product and operator safety aspects, commercial requirements, market culture for seed treatments, competitive products in the market (Dayer et al., 2007).

 

4.1 Dry powder seed treatments (DS)

Dry powder seed treatments represent the oldest formulation type. They are similar to wet table powders except that they contain stickers such as mineral oil or dodecylbenzene instead of wetting and dispersing agents (Microft et al., 2008). They also contain a red pigment as a safety marker for the dressed seed. Powders are easy to apply with simple equipment, such as drums or concrete mixers. This has made them important in developing countries where more sophisticated equipment is too expensive or not available. Powder seed treatment formulations store well and cause very few germination problems to the seeds. However, powder formulations are not well retained by the seeds and stickers may need to be added to improve seed retention. The seed treatment operation is often very dusty and messy, which leads to poor plant hygiene and operator safety problems (Figure 1). This was a particular problem with oregano-mercurial powder seed treatments, which are now banned. Seed treatment plant and equipment are difficult to clean because the dry powder formulations do not dilute in water (Alan, 2005). For these reasons dry powder seed treatments are rarely used in well developed countries and are being phased out in developing regions.

 

 

Figure 1 Seed treatment procedure

 

Examples: Carbendazim-25%DS, Tebuconazole-2.5%DS, Carbosulfan-25%DS, Carboxin-37.5 + Thiram-37.5% DS

 

4.2 Water slurriable powders (Ws)

Water slurriable powders for seed treatment are similar to wet table powder formulations in that they contain wetting and dispersing agents so that the powder can be made easily into slurry in water for application to the seed. Examples of surfactants used are lignosulphonates and aliphatic alcohol ethoxylates. However, they also contain a flocculating agent such as a polyphosphates which prevent the slurry of pesticide particles from settling too quickly during the seed treatment operation. They also contain a red dye or pigment as a safety marker for the dressed seed. Water slurriable formulations are popular in Europe, especially in France for fungicide applications. The advantages of WS formulations are easy to produce, good storage stability, water dilatable so easy plant cleaning (Knowles, 1998). The main disadvantage of WS formulations is that they can be messy when making up the slurry in water and the slurry requires constant stirring during application to the seed.

 

Examples: Difenconazole-3%WS, Imidacloprid-70%WS, Thiram-75%WS, Carbendazim-25% + Mancozeb-50% WS

 

4.3 Flow able seed treatments (FS)

Flow able concentrates for seed treatment are ready for Application (RFA) products, which are usually applied by pumping the liquid suspension formulation directly onto the seed. These formulations are very similar to suspension concentrates (SC) and very often contain similar agents. They also contain a red pigment as a safety marker on dressed seed (Castro et al., 1998) (Figure 2). Flow able concentrates require careful selection of gelling and thickening agents to control viscosity to prevent separation of particles, whilst at the same time having low enough viscosity to be easily pump able directly onto the seed, even at low temperatures. The advantages of flow able seed treatments are water based and water dilatable, low potential for germination problems, good retention on seed, no powder dusting problems, easy to clean up seed treatment machinery. The main disadvantages of flow able seed treatments are require lengthy formulation development, storage stability may be affected by temperature extremes, and high loadings may cause stickiness and poor flow properties of seed (Alan, 2005). Flow able seed treatments have now become the most popular formulation type in Europe because they are concentrated formulations and safe to apply because they are water based.

 

 

Figure 2 Seed treatment procedure

 

Examples: Imidacloprid-48%FS, Thiomethoxam-30%FS, Thiram-40%FS, Thiophanate methyl + Pyroclostribin 50%FS

 

4.4 Emulsion seed treatments (ES)

These products are oil-in-water emulsion formulations (similar to EW formulations for seed dressing/treatment. A stable emulsion for application to the seed either directly or after dilution. Presently FS (Flowables for seed treatment) are available. They are suspensions of solids. For solid, particle size decrease α surface area. For liquid, surface area/coverage will be maximum. Smooth on seed surface. Probability of hard coating is less as compared to solid.

 

Example: Metalaxyl-M-31.8%ES

 

4.5 Microcapsule seed treatments (CF)

A modification of flow able emulsion seed treatment formulations is to convert the emulsion droplets into capsules by microencapsulation techniques. This can be used to reduce the operator handling exposure to active ingredients which may have potential skin irritancy problems. Syngenta have successfully produced an example of this type of product with Force ST (also known as Evict), which contains a capsule suspension of tefluthrin. These products are also available from Bayer Crop Science.

 

4.6 Water dispersible granule seed treatments (WG)

In order to overcome the problems of dustiness and sedimentation with water slurriable powder formulations (WS), a small number of powders have been converted into water dispersible granules (WG).

 

Examples: Carbendazim-16.7%WG, Cymoxanil-6.7%WG, Oxadixyl-16.7%, Thiram-33.4%WG

 

5 Film Coating and Pelleting of Seeds

One of the problems of treating seeds with pesticide formulations is that after treatment some of the pesticide may fall off the surface of the seed. This problem can be overcome by film coating or pelleting techniques which ensure that almost all of the pesticide is retained by the seed until it is ready to plant (Reddy et al., 1999). Seeds treated in this way are also easier to handle in the seed drills because the seeds flow better and the flow rate is not affected by buildup of dusts and powders. The main disadvantage of seed coating and pelleting is the cost. This means that the techniques are not economic for high tonnage, low cost seeds such as cereals, but are more commonly used for higher value crops such as sugar beet and vegetables, as well as for horticultural seeds. In the film coating process, a polymer solution is sprayed onto the seeds to give a thin shell or coating around each seed. The process must allow enough time for the film to dry out so that the coated seeds do not clump together. The overall size of the seed is not changed, but seeds with a rough surface, such as carrot, can be made smoother by film coating, and thereby improve their drilling properties. The addition of a polymer coating typically adds no more than 1-10% of the weight of the seed. Seed coatings are used for a number of reasons i.e. to seal the pesticide and colorant to the seed, to minimize dust-off, to reduce the drying time of the treated seed, to protect seed from damage during transport, to reduce the exposure of operators to pesticide hazards, to make seed more uniform and easier to flow through the seed drill (Alan, 2005). The coating usually contains an adjuvant, pigment and pacifier as well as polymer binders, which are typically, water soluble polymers such as starches, cellulose derivatives or PVA. Synthetic acrylic emulsions and other polymers are also used.

 

Seed plating is a rather different process, which applies a thick coat of inert materials to the seed and changes its shape and volume. The inert materials are usually clay or limestone powder, and stickers such as gelatin, cellulose polymers or polyoxy-ethylene glycol-based waxes are added as binders. Sugar beet and vegetables are often pelleted, especially in Europe. The seeds are rolled in rotating mills or drums while water and powdered coating materials are added (Hoeptting et al., 2012). The blend of materials is chosen to adhere to the seed, mould around the seed easily, sufficient strength to withstand transport and drilling, allow seed germination, chemical compatibility with the pesticide. The main purpose of pelleting is to improve seed handling and drilling. This is achieved by increasing the size of small seeds and by changing the shape of awkwardly-shaped seeds to a more spherical shape. The thickness of the pellet coating means that pesticides can be separated at different layers of the coating. Seed pelleting is an expensive form of seed treatment and is only of use in a limited number of crops.

 

6 Possible Innovations of Seed Coating Formulation Technologies

6.1 Micro emulsion gel technologies

For better adherence on the surface of seeds during seed dressing, gel structure improve the quality of stickiness of active ingredient, for control of seed borne diseases, Very fine coating along with more retention time (Figure 3).

 

 

Figure 3 Microemulsion gel and gel kinetics

 

6.2 Controlled release of seed coating formulation technology

Controlled release provides the delivery of agrochemicals when needed, controlled release of agrochemicals is independent of seed germination. Delayed delivery of agrochemicals for protection of transplanted crops, extended delivery for direct seeded crops, extended protection time to match the needs of the growing plant and reduce phytotoxicity of seed treatments on germination.

 

6.3 ZW seed coating formulation technology

A mixed formulation of capsulated suspension (CS) and concentrated emulsion (EW) is a stable suspension of microcapsules of the active ingredient and fine droplets of active ingredient(s) in fluid, normally intended for dilution with water before use. In the case of microcapsules, the active ingredient is present inside discrete, inert, polymeric microcapsules. Mixtures of active ingredients one of which is encapsulated are used to provide a broader spectrum of pest control. Formulating the active ingredients together eliminates the need for tank mixing (which can lead to incompatibilities). Like other aqueous liquid formulation, ZW formulations are easy to handle and measure, dust free, nonflammable and offer good miscibility with water.

 

Examples: Lambda Cyhalothrin-25.0 CS + Chloropyriphos-10.0 EW

 

6.4 Nanogel based seed coating formulation technology

Nanogels may be defined as nano-sized hydrogel systems which are highly cross linked systems in nature involving polymer systems, which are either co-polymerised or monomeric. Sudden outbreak in the field of nanotechnology have introduced the need for developing nanogel systems which proven their potential to deliver active ingredients in controlled, sustained and targetable manner. Wide variety of polymer systems and the easy alteration of their physico-chemical characteristics have given advantage for versatile form of nanogel formulations. This type of nanogel formulation may have good future in seed dressing/coating because of its lower particle size, large surface area and greater adhesive properties.

 

7 Major Benefits of Seed Coating Formulation Technologies

7.1 Grower benefits

As evidenced by its rapid adoption, seed treatment offers considerable benefits for growers and allows them to produce high-quality crops. Seed treatments contribute to earlier and faster planting, higher plant populations and higher crop yields (Crop Life Foundation, 2005). Following planting, seed treatments offer effective control against early season, below-ground and above-ground pests and diseases, and reduce the need for additional rescue treatments or replanting. Seed treatment protects the seed itself, which has high intrinsic value, and increases the value of the harvested crop through improved yield and significantly higher commodity prices since 2005. Farmers achieve maximum protection of crops by planting GM seed that has been treated with crop protection products.

 

7.2 Healthier crops

Seed treatment offers an effective method of protecting seed from pathogens, insects and other pests, which contributes to high-quality crop production. Broad-spectrum crop protection products used to treat seed control pre- and post-emergence insects and diseases. Insecticides used as seed treatments provide a healthy, uniform crop by controlling insects. Seed treatments can address insect control at the following times: during storage; to prevent seedling damage; to limit early foliar feeding; and to prevent root damage (Huseth et al., 2010).

 

7.3 Positive environmental impacts

Seed treatment precisely places the crop protection product on the surface of a small seed, effectively reducing the need to apply products over entire fields. This reduces potential off-target exposure to crop protection products for both animals and humans. Modern seed coating products are able to deliver high levels of efficacy for the control of early season insects or diseases at a much reduced usage rate compared to many foliar or soil applied alternatives (Hutmacher, 2005). Seed treatment usage with today’s compounds reduces the land surface exposed to the active ingredient. Imagine the comparison of 1 hectare of land with a foliar or soil applied application of active ingredient - results in 10,000 m2 of land in contact with the active ingredient. If the application was used in-furrow, then the exposed land surface could be reduced to 500 m2. But, the use of seed treatment would leave only 50 m2 of surface exposed to the active ingredient, minimizing environmental impact (Figure 4). Additionally, seed treatments have less risk of impact on non-target organisms and drift. As an example, for an insecticide in corn, at a plant rate of 100,000 seeds per ha, the application rate is also reduced from 1,350 g active ingredient per hectare (ai/ha) for foliar application or 600 g ai/ ha for furrow application to 50 g ai/ha for a seed treatment. This reduced active ingredient loading minimizes the impact on the environment significantly by decreasing the effect on non-target organisms and the movement of the product in the environment. They generally are low in toxicity to plant and animal life, and because they are applied in low doses, they have little environmental impact. In some cases these doses are as low as 1 g of active ingredient per hectare (0.4 g per acre).

 

 

Figure 4 Comparative distribution pattern of pesticides by different mode of applications

 

7.4 Precision application

When applied as seed treatments, crop protection products increase precision and effectiveness by reducing the applications of pesticides applied to the land area. The precise application of a crop protection product via seed treatment reduces soil surface exposure by up to 90 percent compared to in furrow applications and up to 99 percent compared to a surface application. Seed treatment is a convenient application method in which the crop protection product is applied directly to the target (Kubik, 2010).

 

7.5 Uniform loading

Seed treatment is a leading technology in precision agriculture. Not only are seed treatments primarily applied in a closed system, their loading rate per acre is minimal compared to all other types of applications. In addition, with the advent of GM seeds, the industry has focused research on optimizing the seeding rate required to optimize yields.

 

7.6 Integrated pest management

FAO International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides (Revised version) adopted in 2002 defines Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as meaning “the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment (Chandler, 2008). IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms”. Seed treatments can be used as a primary tool in a successful Integrated Pest Management Program for sustainable agriculture since they target the pests and diseases with smaller amounts of active ingredients per hectare and are not introduced into the atmosphere. In many cases, without the use of seed treatment, growers would have great difficulty in controlling certain seed-borne and early season seedling pests and diseases and would have to resort to more expensive and less environment-friendly methods.

 

7.7 Improvements to seed treatment equipment

Seed treatment application technology has improved from a gross application of ounces per hundredweight of seed (cwt) to a precise application of milligrams per individual seed. There have been significant improvements in application using equipment designed to apply loading rates of milligrams of crop protection product per seed. Computerized treating systems calculate the total product application rate for each lot of seed, adjust the seed and product flow, and make corrections as necessary for each new lot of seed.

 

7.8 Economic impacts

In addition to providing highly effective protection against pests and disease, seed treatments have a significant economic impact on markets, particularly in the U.S. and Europe. The global seed treatment market was valued at $2.43 billion in 2011. Insecticides accounted for 52 percent of the total market revenue, followed by fungicides, which accounted for 35 percent of revenue. The global fungicide seed treatment market is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9.2 percent and is expected to reach $1.4 billion by 2018. The global insecticide seed treatment market is projected to reach $4.2 billion by 2018, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 10.8 percent. The high cost of GM seed is a key factor in the high demand for and growth of chemical seed treatments. As a result, seed treatment is currently the fastest growing agricultural chemicals sector. A bag of stacked trait cotton seed (220,000 to 250,000 seeds) typically carries a technology cost of approximately $300 to $400 per bag.

 

7.9 Uniqueness of innovative seed coating formulations

Seed are living organisms so there is no tolerance for a delivery system that negatively affects the health and/or contributes to an untimely death of seeds and/or seedlings. Treated seeds must be robust enough to withstand handling multiple times after treatment from the time the application is made, to packaging g in bags and/or bins and finally in transport to the final destination to the grower. Since seeds are a 3-dimensional substrate, they must be treated uniformly so that the active ingredients are evenly distributed to provide optimum protection in a harsh growing environment. Seed treatment products can be quite sophisticated in that they may be formulated with one or more fungicides in combination with one or more insecticides, i.e., they can be multi-functional products delivered in a single container. Because seed is sold as a commodity, certain varieties or genetic traits are often distinguished in the marketplace by the addition of a unique color and/or cosmetic enhancement. Because seed is the target, the impact on the environment is minimal (treatment on the seed, seed in the ground). The danger of excess run off does not exist (Wiltrich et al., 2004).

 

8 Safety Precautions

Read the label and follow instructions carefully, as over treatment may injure the seed and under treatment will not control the pest. When handling mercurials or similarly toxic substances, the operating personnel must be provided with protective clothing such as (a) coveralls, (b) cap, (c) protective glasses, (d) rubber apron, (e) rubber boots, (f) rubber gloves, and (g) respirator designed for use with the material. Personnel should not inhale the dust or vapor nor permit the material to contact the skin or eyes. Operator should wash thoroughly with soap and water before eating and smoking. Bathe immediately after work and change all clothing. Wash clothing thoroughly with soap and hot water before reuse. In case of contact, immediately remove contaminated clothing and wash skin thoroughly with soap and water.

 

9 Treated Seed Disposal

The best way to dispose of a small quantity of leftover seed that has been treated with a pesticide is to plant it in fallow or other non-cropped areas of the farm. Note that treated seed may be hazardous to wildlife and must be planted according to seed bag instructions. If treated seed no longer has acceptable germination for the intended use, possible options include 1) disposal in an approved municipal landfill, 2) use as a fuel source for power plants or cement kilns, 3) high temperature incineration by a waste management facility, or 4) fermentation in an alcohol-producing process at an ethanol plant. Excess treated seed may be used for ethanol production only if (a) by-products (distillers grains, mash, etc.) are not used for livestock feed and (b) no measurable residues of pesticide remain in ethanol by-products that are used in agronomic practice.

 

10 Conclusions

Seed treatment is a cutting-edge technology for crop protection that provides many benefits to growers and represents one of the most effective tools in precision agriculture. Seed treatments have helped to improve the yields of many different crops by providing the insurance of a uniform stand across a wide variety of soil types, cultural practices and environmental conditions (Lorenz et al., 2009). The technology allows broad-spectrum seed treatment crop protection products to protect seeds from pre- and post-emergent insects and diseases. Seed treatments provide an economical crop input that is applied directly on the seed using highly effective technology. In addition, emerging seed treatment technologies have improved in tandem with more advanced field planting equipment. The significantly lower amount of active ingredient applied compared to alternative applications makes seed treatment environmentally sustainable and further reduces potential off-target exposure to plants and animals.

 

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