Boosting Seed’s Natural Properties
North American companies are developing, testing and marketing new technologies to improve the performance of seed.
Seed enhancements are commonplace in North American agriculture—they are designed to improve seed’s germination and growth, make planting and harvesting easier, and deliver valuable nutrients and inoculants needed at sowing. Companies across Canada are introducing new products and processes to help growers adapt to changing climatic conditions while increasing profit margins.
Getting Off to a Good Start
Giving seeds a head start is the thinking behind Wolf Trax, Inc.’s Protinus seed nutrition product. A patented seed-applied fertilizer, Protinus provides plants with small amounts of nutrients right after they germinate, before they are mature enough to access soil nutrients on their own.
“By improving early plant nutrition, growers see the benefit in crop establishment, early-season growth, and the ability to withstanding challenging growing conditions. This all adds up to better yield potential,” says Jennifer Bailes, Wolf Trax’s director of seed products and innovations, in Winnipeg, Man.
In addition to speeding up emergence by one to two days, treating seed with Protinus results in seedlings that are 15 per cent larger, with roots up to 20 per cent more developed. Protinus field trials have shown positive results for corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, cereals, forages, grasses and vegetable crops, says Bailes.
INCOTEC’s GeniusCoat is also aimed at boosting crop nutrition and stimulating root development and mass. “Fostering the seed’s miniscule nutrition requirements at germination triggers a chain reaction that affects the entire growth period, resulting ultimately in a significantly enhanced maximum yield potential,” says Brad Kortsen, INCOTEC’s sales and marketing manager.
Increased yield is one of GeniusCoat’s goals—stronger seedlings mean thicker stands, faster growth and more tillers. Data from 73 field trials, conducted by INCOTEC on wheat plots located on various continents and under varying climatological conditions, shows an average yield increase of 4.5 per cent. Crops from seeds treated with GeniusCoat also have higher straw production and protein content, as well as better baking quality.
Meanwhile, Novozymes is concentrating on the ever-growing North American soybean market with their patent-pending seed treatment CUE. The treatment, which uses isoflavonoids, gives seed companies the ability to differentiate between seed genetics and traits, while providing yield increases of one to two bushels.
CUE triggers beneficial fungi in the root zone before the plant can naturally activate them. “[It] enhances the root structure, improving nutrient, water and phosphorus uptake to overcome environmental stress,” says Francis Leier, the company’s international business development manager.
Polymers and Pellets Help Growers
There is no question that seed treatments can boost plant development and growth, but only if the treatments stay on the seeds. Becker Underwood’s Flo Rite 1127 Concentrate for soybeans and Flo Rite 1197 for corn, canola, wheat and other crops are plantability polymers. A polymer can be added to a slurry tank and applied along with a fungicide and/or insecticide. The company says these polymers help reduce seed bridging and clumping during handling for improved flow during seed conditioning and treatment operations.
“Once applied to a seed, a plantability polymer will help growers maximize the yield potential of their high value-genetics by increasing seed drop accuracy, reducing planter skips and improving the uniformity of seed placement,” says Stephanie Zumbach, product manager for seed enhancements.
Becker Underwood recently announced a lower application rate for Flo Rite 1127 Concentrate when only a fungicide seed treatment is used. “We recognize that some treaters choose to apply only a fungicide,” says Zumbach. “Our testing has shown the new lower three-quarters of a fluid ounce application rate for Flo Rite 1127 Concentrate will still give these treaters and their growers the benefit of controlling dust-off and improving plantability when they apply just a fungicide.”
Speeding Up Plant Growth
Products that stimulate plant growth by tapping into the plant’s nutritional capabilities are also becoming increasingly popular. While products such as BrettYoung’s BioBoost are foliar applications, there are also a few that are applied directly to the seed.
Novozymes has developed a unique seed-applied product called Optimize with LCO Promoter Technology. According to the company, the product, which comes in a liquid formulation for soybeans, enhances nutritional capabilities that drive natural growth processes—essentially enabling your soybean crop to achieve its full genetic potential by maximizing crop performance all season long.
Optimize contains Novozymes’ patented LCO (lipo-chitooligosaccharide) Promoter Technology, a unique molecule that enhances a plant’s nutritional capabilities, which drives the natural growth processes immediately and independently of growing conditions.
Key benefits received from enhanced nutritional capabilities include:
• Enhanced root system for improved nutrient and water uptake;
• Earlier and increased nodule development for improved nitrogen fixation;
• Improved vigour, stand and emergence produces healthier, faster-developing plants;
• Faster canopy closure reduces weed pressure and conserves soil moisture; and
• Increased flexibility with a 30-day planting window after application.
Meanwhile, XiteBio Technologies Inc., based in Manitoba, is developing innovative and value-added biological products with plant growth regulators. “At XiteBio, we are inspired by nature and create products that enhance the natural properties of plants and soils. That’s why we are proud to bring Advanced Growth Promoting Technology with rhizobia for legumes that are second to none,” says Manas Banerjee, CEO of XiteBio Technologies. The company believes it has set the stage for more profitable legume production in North America.
Banarjee says the company’s Advanced Growth Promoting Technology, or AGPT, not only introduces optimum numbers of rhizobia into the soil, but also invigorates the natural soil microflora, including the native rhizobia, and creates synergy between them. Different soil types support different microflora, many of which are beneficial to crops. The native microbes living in the soil, such as bacteria, fungi and algae, are stimulated by AGPT, and these organisms can then confer their beneficial impact upon the crop. According to Banarjee, this is what makes AGPT a revolutionary technology—it creates synergy between a rhizobial inoculant and the invigorated native microflora.
“Inoculants with AGPT provide all the advantages of traditional rhizobia plus the benefits of the numerous beneficial organisms that may already be present in the soil,” explains Banerjee. The AGPT inoculant enhances the microbial activity, resulting in improved soil health and ensuring that crops are healthier, more vigorous and higher-yielding.
The company has developed SoyRhizo and PeasRhizo, two newly formulated rhizobium-based products with AGPT targeted for the U.S. and Canadian markets. According to the company, these innovative products allow high survivability of introduced bacteria across various environmental constraints, thereby ensuring higher yields and greater productivity. They are currently available in the United States, and promising field trial results have been obtained from Canada. XiteBio Technologies will be releasing these eco-friendly products in Canada once they are registered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. XiteBio is also working on AGPT inoculants for use on corn, canola, wheat, barley, alfalfa, flax, sugar beet and vegetables, and these will soon be commercially available.
This is a rapidly growing sector within the seed industry, and one to keep an eye on, as companies continue to develop technology that helps solve the problems facing growers today.
Andrea Geary and Julie McNabb