When your grandfather thought of seed treatment, he probably visualized some black powder that he mixed in with the seed, either in the planter box of in a small tub that he then dumped into planter boxes. It was likely seed inoculant. There are new generation seed inoculants today that you can buy. But the term 'seed treatment' has expanded to include a mixture of fungicides, insecticides and a polymer coating so that the seed still drops out of the planter or drill in good fashion.
Most companies today, especially seed companies, are branding their own special seed treatment. They often include proprietary agents along with one of the more common insecticide and one or more fungicides.
The move to include insecticide came a few years ago when both company research and other work indicated that a seed treatment could be beneficial in stopping early-season insects, including the first generation of soybean bean beetles.
Bayer officials say their data shows that more farmers want seed treatment applied. The number has risen dramatically from under 10% to about half over the past decade,
Now Bayer is working on a new twist. Under testing in the field, on the Jack and John Mahoney farm near Brownsburg, Bayer operates a small research station. This year they have Trilex 6000, their premium seed treatment which is now available, to protect seed and help get off to a good start, growing on the farm. They also have experimental plots of Trilex 6000 with a nematicide. The idea is to protect roots for the first 60 days after application from nematode feeding, hoping roots will get stronger and then be able to fend off nematodes in a more effective manner.
This breakthrough product will be tested again in 2010 and, if all goes well, launched across the Corn Belt in '09. Right now, it's so new that Trilex 6000 containing the nematicide is still in fundamental testing.