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Germany

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Date

October 2016

Services

Passionate about performance

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Nobody who has ever had the opportunity to discuss seed treating with German farmer Rüdiger Klamroth, specifically about his high-performance seed treating plant, will doubt for one moment how serious he is about it. Bayer SeedGrowth expert Norbert de Baey has long provided him with advice and support. We were there when he paid Rüdiger Klamroth a visit to give the plant a quality check.
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In Brief:

  • Since 2015 German farmer Rüdiger Klamroth has operated one of the most up-to-date seed treatment plants in Germany
  • Thanks to state-of-the-art technology and 89 program steps, the risk of varieties being mixed due to an operating error at the plant is virtually nil
  • Bayer SeedGrowth expert Norbert de Baey has advised Klamroth right through from when he first had the idea for the new plant to when it was taken into service
It is raining – a slight drizzle – as Norbert de Baey drives his car along the narrow tarred track near Börnecke, not far from Blankenburg, and heads toward a large hall. First-time visitors to this rural area in the northern Harz foothills do not expect to find here one of the most up-to-date seed treating plants in Germany, run by farmer Rüdiger Klamroth, who turned his passion for seed treatment into a business in 1997. Before treating his first winter wheat recently in an industrial shed of more than 3,000 m2 he visited a large number of treater facilities all over Germany and even in Austria to find the best seed treatment system. This intensive research has paid dividends. His old plant could handle over 3,000 t of seed a year; this season he has treated over 5,100 t with the new plant.
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Norbert de Baey

About Norbert de Baey

Norbert de Baey is a qualified farmer who has been with Bayer for 29 years working in seed treatment and seed treatment consulting. His areas of responsibility for Bayer SeedGrowth include Westphalia and northern and eastern Germany. He currently looks after 130 customers, ranging from farmers to large-scale industrial seed breeding and seed treatment companies. He holds up to 15 seed treating courses a year: both courses that all farmers must take every three years to refresh their knowledge about plant protection products and courses in seed treatment technology. In the peak season he makes a point of never taking a vacation. “I try to be always available for my customers in August and September,” he says. That is when his customers do most of their business. “I would have no peace of mind sunning myself on the beach if I knew that a customer might have nobody to contact when he needs advice.”

Perfect man-machine communication

To rule out sources of error Klamroth had a control center with a state-of-the-art PLC plant control system installed in the seed dressing hall. At a height of more than 4 m he and his team maintain an overview of the different processes even when they are not at the grader, the pneumatic table, or the batch treater. In meticulous detail Klamroth thought through all of the program steps that were required, defined 89 programs, and hired a programmer to write them. “Thanks to state-of-the-art technology the risk of varieties being mixed due to an operating error at my plant is virtually nil,” he says. He keeps an eye on everything on a 17-inch monitor. “Let us assume we have four changes of variety a day here at the plant; if any were to be mixed it would be an absolute catastrophe,” Klamroth says. “At our plant an automated control system monitors every single process of the plant.” So is this a self-monitoring plant that makes the human factor superfluous? “No, it certainly is not,” he says. “The technical monitoring of the plant alone does not yet by any stretch of the imagination replace the human factor and human experience.” Klamroth is well aware of that, but it is good to know that the plant notices by itself exactly where it has not yet been cleaned sufficiently. When that happens the section of the plant in question flashes in white on Klamroth’s monitor screen. It could be the elevator foot, for example. If that happens the PLC does not release the program. It goes into shutdown, standstill, and just as well. The risk of varieties mixing is simply too great. Only once the operator has rectified the error, checked all the processes once more and confirmed to the system by hand that he has done so do the individual assemblies start to work again, one after the other. This, you might say, is a double safety net.
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Rüdiger Klamroth: “Dust is the last thing we need here; my aim is to have a dust-free plant.”

The operator can do more than just follow the cleaning steps on the monitor screen. In one view they can look right into the treater and see whether the pumps are operating flawlessly. They can select them directly by remote control. Klamroth can now use up to four components to treat the cleaned seed; Bayer’s EfA™, for example, which is designed to prevent bunt, snow mold, and smut in grain such as winter barley and winter wheat, or the Bayer SeedGrowth™ coating Peridiam™ EcoRed EC103, which optimizes adhesion to the grain and, later, the flowability of dressed seed in the sowing machine, or even micronutrients like Bayer’s Mobil™.

Recorded in precise detail

The PLC control can do even more. The system keeps records for each order, so Klamroth can show his customer exactly what was done to his product at any time, day or night. “We have three programmable logical controllers here in all: the PLC of the technical plant, the PLC of the seed treater, and the PLC of the six weighing machines,” he explains. So three tables of data sets per order are generated. Klamroth is currently working on merging the three files into a single record, a consolidated file. “I know of no facility that currently implements all of this with such precision as we do,” he says, looking at his plant with pride.

Years of shared experience

Complete with its state-of-the-art sensorics and its highly efficient control center, his plant can hold its own with large-scale industrial seed dressing facilities. “In mid-2016,” de Baey says, “a Bayer SeedGrowth seed treater training course was held here for more than 50 master treaters from all over eastern Germany.” Best practice at first hand, as it were. Bayer holds around 15 of these courses a year. Norbert de Baey himself has worked in seed treater consulting for 29 years and for over 15 years he has regularly visited Klamroth’s plant. Small wonder, then, that he has been able to keep an eye on this plant from the outset and to advise Klamroth with his expertise in the subject. “It is not every day that you see a plant start from scratch like this one did,” he says. “That really is something special” – even for an expert who has been in the seed treating business for as long as he has.
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“I really respect and appreciate our expert discussions,” Klamroth says.

“Norbert is there fast when you have a problem,” Klamroth says, describing a relationship of trust based on confidence gained over the years. “I really respect and appreciate our expert discussions.” And what if the plant does grind to a halt due to an error? “Sadly,” he says, “that usually happens in mid-season. That is when I need someone like Norbert whom I can always contact and who can help me fast so that I can supply my customers punctually.”

Seal of quality

Today the Bayer SeedGrowth expert is in Börnecke to check the plant. It is an annual check, albeit a voluntary one. He goes right round the plant, adjusting and calibrating the premixing technology, the dosing roller, the bucket wheels, or the pump, for instance. Today he is checking the digital display in the premixing room. “It needs recalibrating,” he says. Child’s play for a technician with his experience and expertise. For a seed dressing plant that has passed its test he issues a certificate – and a label that is attached to the plant. “Operators that offer seed treating as a contract facility set great store by this pre-season service,” de Baey says.
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Rüdiger Klamroth

Seed treatment made in eastern Germany

Rüdiger Klamroth began to run his own farm in 1990. In 1997 he embarked on an additional line of business: seed treatment. Today, Klamroth employs 17 full-time workers and has up to 27 workers on his payroll in the peak season. He uses 44 % of his farmland for multiplication: from hybrid and open pollinated wheat via barley to peas.

Varietal purity is guaranteed

From the premixing room, where de Baey has just attached the certification label, we are back in the hall at the plant. Everything can be treated here, from red clover and foodgrains to field beans. Klamroth uses the plant both for this seed treatment and to clean other varieties using the pneumatic table or the grader. He can even clean fennel here for a major spice customer in the region. “In that way I can be sure that the plant is operating at capacity even when I am not treating wheat or barley seed for my customers.” Varietal purity is guaranteed by the plant technology described above, which takes meticulous care to ensure that all units are always spotlessly clean.

Both conventional and organic

A special feature of Klamroth’s facility is that seed is not only treated conventionally; the plant also has organic certification. “That is precisely why it has to be absolutely dust-free,” he explains. Two large aspirators separate the white, untreated dust from the red, treated dust. “That is a very complex process and it is highly efficient,” he says. “You could now run your hand through the white dust and see for yourself that there is nothing red in it.”
Experts like Norbert de Baey are one of the reasons why this is the case. Before he gets back into his car and drives off to his next customer we ask him just what the secret of the SeedGrowth Service is. He is not at a loss for the answer: the seed treatment courses, for example, and the seed treatment service. “When we are called in as consultants the customers don’t just want to be given a brochure. They want the best know-how that is available. And that is something only Bayer SeedGrowth can provide so extensively right now, I am proud to be able to say.”
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