Competence areas

Equipment

Country/Region

Global

Crops

Corn, All

Date

June 2017

Equipment

FINDING THE EXACT SEED TREATMENT END POINT

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Bayer SeedGrowth™: a proven way to help seedlings thrive, achieve higher yields, and ultimately help grow farmers’ businesses. But this only works if you use the right products and, above all, apply them correctly. A newly developed equipment tool is helping with that.

In Brief

  • Bayer developed BaySTEP as part of its Zero Dust project
  • This equipment solution determines the end point of the seed treatment process in batch treaters
  • The main benefits are enhancing the quality of the treated seeds, visualization of the treatment process, and the safety of operators and the environment
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Heinz-Friedrich Schnier, Head of Global SeedGrowth Center

Seed treatment products have many benefits. They form a layer around seeds, protecting them from pests and diseases. But there is also a downside. Fine particles of these substances can rub off, especially if not applied correctly, and be released into the environment when certain types of sowing machinery that exhaust into the air are used. Bees and other beneficial insects nearby may potentially be exposed to such dust emissions because of inaccurately applied products. With its Zero Dust project, Bayer is working on minimizing the generation and emission of dust. In this project, researchers and developers are examining the entire process, from the makeup of the active substances and additives in the treatment layer to the planting of the seeds in the field.

One step in which dust generation can be very effectively reduced is during the active seed treatment process. If treaters can avoid unnecessary abrasion of seed dressing, it automatically decreases the amount of dust. But how can seed processors achieve this? With a newly developed tool by Bayer SeedGrowth: BaySTEP. “STEP” stands for “Seed Treatment End Point”, and this equipment solution helps operators to determine the exact end point of the seed treatment process. Designed for batch treaters, it uses structure-borne noise measurement to visualize the treatment process and ascertain the perfect time to discharge the seeds. “By means of giving me the scientifically determined timing for discharging seeds, BaySTEP has the potential to make this work step much easier,” says Volkert Meiners, Managing Director at Meiners Saaten GmbH, a seed treatment company in Dünsen, Germany.
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If the mixing period is too long, not enough active ingredients remain on the seed.

Inaccurate mixing times are a problem

But why would seed treaters like Volkert Meiners need a tool like BaySTEP? Right now, determining the exact amount of mixing time needed for each batch of seeds is as important as it is difficult. Seeds are, of course, a product of nature and come in a multitude of different sizes. Since the volume of treated seed, however, is always measured in its entirety, grain size differences are often overlooked. An especially difficult case in this regard is corn; determining the perfect treatment time for these seeds is almost impossible.

That – and almost exclusively relying on their professional experience – is why far too often seed processors choose mixing times that are far too long. But in seed treatment, “better too much than too little” does not work. If the mixing period is too long, the seed dressing becomes too dry, which causes excessive abrasion of the treatment product. The effects of this are extremely negative: insufficient active ingredient remains on the seed, potential for dust emission increases, and the biological effectiveness in the field is impaired.

Capturing seed treatment perfectly

Less than 21 seconds – that is the time corn seeds need during each batch cycle for intake, liquid dosing, and mixing until discharge. If you calculate this short timespan only based on experience and feeling, more often than not, it goes wrong. BaySTEP professionalizes this process using structure-borne noise measurement. This sound measuring method recognizes how far along the seed treatment product’s drying process is on the seed – thus making the entire process more transparent. As it reaches the optimal point, BaySTEP tells the treatment machine that the mixing procedure is finished and the seeds are discharged.
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Part of the BaySTEP team: Oleksandr Dunayvitser

In addition to finding the perfect end point in the seed treatment process, BaySTEP can do much more. It collects and records various measurement data, which provides operators with important insights into how their treatment process works under different conditions such as heat or humidity. This holistic documentation can lead to business-critical conclusions that make future treatment cycles much more predictable and successful.

Better quality and more diversity

But how does it work exactly? BaySTEP is an add-on device that upgrades existing seed treatment machines. Besides documenting the treatment process, its main benefit is the ability to ensure higher treatment quality. The abrasion of the seed treatment product is reduced, which results in the perfect amount of seed dressing remaining on the seeds. Additionally, dust generation and emission is minimized, thus increasing operator safety and decreasing the potential impact on pollinators and other non-target species living in and feeding near the fields where seeds are sown. Additionally, BaySTEP optimizes and improves seed treatment processes. BaySTEP leads to optimum seed treatment quality in a minimum process time.
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Finding the perfect end point of the seed treatment process thanks to BaySTEP.

How far has Bayer progressed in the process of bringing BaySTEP to the market and implementing it at seed treatment facilities? Right now an extensive testing phase is in progress. Selected Bayer customers can test BaySTEP and report their experiences and feedback. Bayer has ready-to-use prototypes in store for this purpose. Patent application is already under way. “We don’t want to mass produce BaySTEP,” says Heinz-Friedrich Schnier, Global Head SeedGrowth Centers at Bayer. “Rather, we plan to license the technology. And, of course, all Bayer treatment equipment will be fitted with BaySTEP as a bonus.” BaySTEP is expected to be ready for introduction to the market by the end of this year.
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Volkert Meiners’ company is already testing BaySTEP and using it in its treatment process. “We treat corn on behalf of growers and, therefore, we have to deal with a lot of different varieties and quantities,” he explains. “We also updated our equipment with a whole range of measures in order to treat the seeds more gently and avoid dust emission. Combined with BaySTEP, all of this provides perfect conditions for a very sustainable and safe seed treatment process.”

About Meiners Saaten GmbH

  • Owner-managed, medium-sized seed company in Dünsen, Germany
  • Founded in 1957
  • Specialized in seed reproduction, fabrication of agricultural mixtures, consultation, and service
  • Owns the latest state-of-the-art technical equipment for preparation, treatment, packaging, and storage of seeds
  • Has 32 employees
  • The company is on a growth path and plans to construct a of a new storage hall
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