All About Seed Treatments
When Googling “wheat seed,” the images that pop up are ones that fit what is usually in people’s minds. You’ll find piles of little light brown to auburn red seeds being held in cupped hands or next to a fully mature head of wheat. Type in “treated wheat seed,” and a whole different variation of colors are on display. Some of the seed piles are red, aquamarine or royal purple, just to name a few. Although these colors are not natural for a wheat seed, do not be fooled. Seed treatments are crafted to help farmers have a more successful crop and are not harmful.
Why are seed treatments helpful?
Seed treatments are meant to address three major problems farmers face with planting and early crop development and growth: fungi, pests and microorganism productivity.
Sometimes soil may have some harmful fungi hiding in the pores and particles. At correct temperatures and moisture levels, these fungi can also become active and produce mycotoxins that are harmful to livestock and humans. Seed treatments include fungicides to keep crops and soil free from fungi and in turn, the fungicides in the seed treatment keep the wheat safe and of the highest quality!
From homes to crops, pests know no boundaries when it comes to damage. Modern seed treatments seek to keep harmful pests away from the beginning through insecticides. Farmers lower the need for chemicals later in the growing process by using seeds treated with insecticides. Seed treatments also avoid excess soil compaction from multiple tractor applications and can help keep pesticides from potentially being lost through erosion and surface water runoff.
Finally, seed treatments include “inoculants,” which encourage and promote microbial communities in the soil. Microorganisms in the soil contribute to fertility, help cycle nutrients and are integral in the biological health of the soil. It is important for the microbes to be working at peak capacity, and these seed treatment methods do just that! Studies show that with seed treatments, plants have a greater uptake of the necessary macronutrients, including carbon, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. These make strong and healthy crops, which, therefore, means more productivity and higher yields.
Are these coatings safe?
Seed treatments are safe to use. The crop that comes from the treated seed produces grain that’s safe for humans to eat. The grain milled into flour is not treated so there are no worries about treatments being in baked products. Seed treatment technology has helped farmers get the most out of their seed. Therefore, they are able to produce more grain to feed you and your family.
Do you want to learn more about how your food is grown? Ride along with Amaya Ochs, a teenage farmer ready to grow her operation. Or, would you like get a front row seat for a wheat harvest? Check out this fantastic footage from Kansas!