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April 2013

Seed-applied products

GOOD FOR YIELDS, THE ECONOMY & THE ENVIRONMENT

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Seed-applied products supercharge seeds to create a win-win-win situation for farmers, the economy and the environment. On-seed applications are making a substantial contribution to sustainable agriculture by letting crops get off to the best possible start, boosting crop revenues, reducing production costs, and reducing CO2 emissions.
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Treated and untreated wheat seeds

Focused protection – higher yields

For farmers the advantages of seed-applied products are obvious. Placing the active substances on and around the seed provides focused plant protection. Applying seed treatment products before the start of drilling saves farmers valuable time in this busy period, as well as during the subsequent 4-5 weeks since the plants need no monitoring, as they are protected during this period. Besides, there is no risk of missing the right moment to apply a plant protection product due to unfavorable weather conditions. Protecting the plants from day one strengthens them against early insect attacks, including virus vectors that might not be susceptible to foliar applications, and against seed-borne fungi that can only be effectively combated by seed-applied fungicides.

“Seed-applied products let the crops get off to the best possible start, enables their potential and allows farmers to boost their yields.”

Martin Gruss, Global Head of SeedGrowth Products


Neonicotinoid seed enhancement

The economic benefits of seed-applied technologies are substantial, as the example of neonicotinoid seed treatment proves. The first comprehensive review of the socio-economic and environmental impact of neonicotinoid seed enhancement was recently published by the Humboldt Forum for Food and Agriculture (HFFA). This study was based on data gathered from France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom, funded by Bayer CropScience and Syngenta, and supported by Copa-Cogeca (European Farmers Union), the European Seeds Association (ESA) and the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA). The study’s authors Thomas Hahn and Steffen Noleppa (agripol) conclude that neonicotinoid seed treatments bring considerable economic benefits across the EU.

Significant sustainable economic benefits

“Since its introduction in the 1990s, neonicotinoid seed treatment technology has had a transformative effect on the sustainability of food production in Europe,” Steffen Noleppa says. “We estimate that it contributes more than €2 billion annually to commodity crop revenues and reduces production costs by €1 billion across the EU.” The authors conclude that without the use of neonicotinoid seed treatment technology, Europe could face economic losses of up to €17 billion over a five-year period. In the long term, this would be accompanied by a significant increase in pest pressure, a possible fall in farmers’ average incomes of 5 percent and the potential loss of 50,000 full-time farm jobs in the EU.

Substantial yield losses possible

The study assumes that the crops affected by a ban on neonicotinoid seed treatment technology differ across Europe, but the authors come to the conclusion that they all would suffer yield losses, with a resultant decline in farmers’ incomes. In the UK winter wheat could suffer a 20 percent yield loss. In Germany oil seed rape (OSR) losses could be as much as 15 percent, with farmers’ margins falling by up to 60 percent, while sugar beet yields could drop by 10-20 percent, eroding producer margins by up to 40 percent. Declining corn seed yields in France, Hungary and Romania, Europe’s three main producers, could negatively affect corn seed supplies throughout Europe.

Combating climate change

At first sight, the environmental benefits of seed-applied products are less obvious, though equally significant. Although Martin Gruss emphasizes that seed-applied technologies – like any other plant however, the more focused protection which seed-applied technologies afford offers environmental benefits in itself.

“If seed-applied technology was lost in Europe, the lack of effective alternatives would mean a partial return to crop protection chemistry which is now several decades old and less sustainable.”

Steffen Noleppa


The HFFA report also explains that NNi ST can contribute to alleviating one of the world’s most pressing environmental problems: climate change. The authors believe that the productivity gap created by loss of this technology could only be closed by cultivating an additional three million hectares of land outside Europe – and that would generate an additional 600 million tons of CO2 emissions. In other words, Bayer CropScience’s seed-applied technologies are most certainly a convincing case of “Science For A Better Life”.
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