Seed treatment: The first step to good yields

Semillas tratadas rizobacter
By Susana Solá -Head of Research and Seeds Quality at Rizobacter

Within crop protection technologies, seed treatment is one of the most innovative and environmentally beneficial techniques. It offers simplicity to farmers and guarantees protection to seeds as soon as they are sown; at the same time, it reduces the number of phytosanitary products used per hectare, which endorses the achievement of an increasingly present social and productive demand: A more sustainable agriculture.

Seed treatment consists of applying biological organisms and chemical products to the seed in order to eliminate, control or repel pathogens, insects or other pests that attack seeds and seedlings of different species. The applied technologies are, for instance, inoculants, herbicides, micronutrients, growth regulators, polymers and colorants. Applying seed treatment promotes the emergence and establishment of the crop (implantation), complements the genetics, and is part of the Integrated Pest Management. In addition, it ensures protection at a time in which other controls cannot be applied due to lack of leaf area.

Biological control reduces the incidence of pests and diseases, using natural enemies. Because their modes of action are different, bioprotectors and chemical inputs can be used alternatively or complementarily; however, bioprotectors ensure protection efficiency and minimize disease tolerance - one of the main problems caused by chemically synthesized inputs.

Increasing regulatory pressure in certain countries and growing social demand for agriculture with less environmental impact are leading input companies to invest more resources in research and development of biological technologies.

Considerable progress has been made in bioprotection focused on professional seed treatment, a fundamental pillar of plant protection that provides benefits to performance and care for the environment. Biobased therapies can be applied more than 90 days in advance and guarantee survival in the container for more than 18 months after production.

In professional (industrial) treatment, the dose per seed is calculated to allow for a better control of the process and a more homogeneous coverage of the seeds, providing protection until the development of the seedling. Treated and coated seeds render a uniform treatment and lessen impact on the environment, since no phytosanitary products or containers are handled in the field.

Regarding inoculants, their compatibility with chemical seed cures should be evaluated so that bacterial survival is not altered. The market already offers technologies that allow preinoculation of up to 120 days and improve the possibilities of implementing professional seed treatment.

The whole seed treatment process requires technical advice and the use of suitable and correctly calibrated equipment. This guarantees the quality and effectiveness of the seed treatment, and the prevention of risks for workers, users and the environment. When we start with a poorly treated seed, we compromise the first yield component of a crop: The plant stand.