Q: What are treated seeds?
A: Treated seeds are seeds that have been lightly coated with various products that enhance plant vigor and help protect them from a variety of diseases and pests that attack the seed and seedlings following planting. The treatments applied to the seeds may include fungicides, insecticides, nematicides, and biological products depending on the need of the farmer and the growing environment.
Treated seeds are encapsulated in polymer coatings to adhere the treatment to the seed, providing an additional safety measure for farmers and the environment.
Q: How are treated seeds used?
A: Small amounts of pesticides are professionally applied by seed companies or certified applicators. Treated seed is planted in the soil early in the growing season, significantly reducing off-target exposure to pollinators.
Q: How do seed treatments work?
A: The fungicides, nematicides, insecticides, and biologicals used as seed treatments have unique modes of action that target specific diseases or pests. Different crop protection products may be used as seed treatments based on the types of pests and diseases that attack a crop in various growing environments. All crop protection products used as seed treatments are thoroughly regulated and regularly reviewed by federal and state authorities.
Q: Are seed treatments necessary?
A: Yes. Without seed treatments, farmers would need to revert to more intensive and costly ag practices to achieve the same results — requiring more tillage, fewer cover crops and more foliar sprays. They enable farmers to maximize yields with more measured amounts of pesticides applied precisely where they are needed the most.
Q: Are seed treatments safe?
A: Every crop protection product is highly regulated and extensively evaluated before being approved for use, including the small, targeted amounts applied on seeds. Along with both U.S. and state agency reviews, all treated seed packaging includes a use label, and the seed industry actively promotes proper use and stewardship.
Q: How is the disposal of treated seed handled?
A: The industry strives to avoid the need to dispose of treated seed because it is an added cost for both the seed and for disposal.
Each year farmers, seed retailers and seed companies carefully calculate how much treated seed they need. However, if the treated seed is damaged or does not meet quality specifications, it may require disposal. Seed companies have programs in place for farmers and retailers to return and properly dispose of seed that has been treated.
Q: Do farmers have the option to not use seed treatment?
A: Yes. Farmers can choose not to use treated seed. But the majority of farmers see the added value of protecting their crop yield potential and quality, as well as the environmental benefits it enables. In addition, many organic farmers can choose to use biological-based seed treatments.
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