Seed treatment 101

This growing season, Minnesota Soybean is reminding producers to keep in mind the risks that come with mixing treated and untreated seed. It is essential that those who treat, handle, transport and plant treated seed manage them properly and in accordance with the label instructions to minimize the risk of pesticide exposure to non-target organisms.

Seeds can be treated for pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, nematicide, sudden death syndrome, plant growth regulators and inoculants and biologicals.

The seeds are treated for two out of the six segments. The seeds are generally a distinctive color as a way to easily identify them, as well as to follow the federal law. Growers look at their fields’ history to decide what they will focus on in the treated seed if they are to buy it.

These seeds need to be planted according to their label and packaging instructions.

When treated seed is used in a field, growers shouldn’t mix in untreated seed. By mixing the two there is a risk of uniformity of each plant being compromised. Growers want the plants to be almost identical and when there is a mixture of treated and untreated seed there is a risk of variation in height, growth, reduced treatment effectiveness, all of which can affect yield and impact management. 

With the risks associated with mixing treated and untreated seed, the only time it’s recommended to mix treated and untreated seed is when there is a shortage on one seed or the other and it’s needed to finish planting the field.  

Once planting is finished and if there is leftover treated seed there are specific instructions for disposing of it.

The first way to rid of it and the best way is to plant the treated seed than to do anything else with it. Treated seed is more costly for growers and to get the best return on investment, it should be planted.

It should never be thrown on the ground because it can be harmful to animals that digest it.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), growers should not dispose of treated seed in the following ways:

• Buried for disposal, except in a permitted solid waste landfill, even if burial is stated as a disposal option on the treated seed label, except that farmers in Minnesota may bury treated seeds from their own farm on the farm property. Spreading and incorporation into soil, except by a farmer of their own treated seeds on their own farm, is considered being buried for disposal and is not allowed.

• Composted

• Burned, except in a permitted Waste-To-Energy (WTE) incineration facility. Waste treated seed may not be burned openly, in corn or wood stoves, or in residential or commercial boilers, including by farmers.

• Used for ethanol, biodiesel, or other fermentation or oil processing, unless specifically approved by the MPCA. Though some treated seed labels still list ethanol production as a management option if no measurable residues of pesticides remain in resulting by-products used in agronomic practice, the MPCA is not aware of any currently available use that does not raise this risk.

Click here for more information on seed treatment stewardship.

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