In the world of seed treatments, efficacy was once the word of the day.
We’ve gone way beyond just efficacy in the development of these products. We’re now looking at the total package — we view these products as part of a system to help growers maximize their productivity.
A system, according to most dictionary definitions, is simply a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnected network.
Good systems evolve over time. Their parts are upgraded, some parts are removed altogether, and the system redesigned to work more efficiently. We consider the value proposition that a seed treatment product presents. Can we get beyond just early-season pest management issues and provide a product that gives a boost in vigour or protects the plant further into the growing season?
The evolution of a seed treatment product happens as a result of a number of external forces.
Customer needs. These are always evolving. Technology is changing rapidly, be it seeding and application equipment, production systems, cropping options and new varieties. It all amounts to producers having more choices and the ability to do more in less time. This requires more versatile seed treatment products that advance with the technologies.
For example, seed treatments help new varieties achieve their maximum yield potential. Breeding for tolerance to the root rot complexes sometimes involves agronomic trade-offs and therefore managing them with a seed treatment is a better option.
In the equipment realm, older seed treatments weren’t necessarily well tested for handling characteristics such as viscosity or seed flowability (certainly not under cold Canadian treating conditions). The application equipment itself has also improved but can vary significantly between commercial treaters and on-farm ones. There is not a one-size fits all solution.
The regulatory environment. Science is not static and as methods to measure and monitor impacts on the environment improve, so do the regulations to ensure our products are safe and used responsibly. We work diligently with regulators to ensure our products meet or exceed the standards they have set regarding safety and environmental stewardship. We work to stay ahead of the curve by proactively developing products we’re confident will meet the regulatory requirements of the future.
Our climate. It’s changing. It will continue to change and introduce new challenges to producers, some of which we hope to help them mitigate. Understanding this helps us ensure we develop products that will work in a range of conditions.
Pest dynamics. Pests are living organisms that react and adapt to their environment. They take advantage of opportunities just like humans do. Staying one step ahead of them is a challenge, but we can’t sit back and wait for the problem to become established before we try to address it. We do our best to predict, based on past observations and current trends, how a given organism or disease will adapt to changing environmental conditions or production systems over time and then improve our seed treatments accordingly.
In my next column, I will delve more into the latter factor and how better understanding it will lead to better seed treatments in the future.