Competence areas

Coatings, Services

Country/Region

Hungary

Crops

Cereals

Date

May 2017

Offering tailored solutions to local partners

Seed treatment in Hungary

Share this article on:
When we decided to visit Hungary, this year’s host country of the World Seed Congress, one thing was clear: we wanted to experience how local seed treaters benefit from our fully integrated system. It made us proud to see that they consider Bayer SeedGrowth™ more than just a provider of best possible solutions in seed-applied technologies.

In Brief

  • Seed production has a great tradition in Hungary based on natural resources, fertile soils, and good climatic conditions
  • Majority of cereal treatments in Hungary are not done in big treatment facilities but rather on-farm
  • Tackling challenges together: advanced seed treaters like Mezőseed Ltd. And Bóly Seed Company appreciate Bayer SeedGrowth expertise on site
Click to enlarge

Csaba Csorba (middle) has become an experienced partner and advisor to his customers.

The first day of spring welcomes us with sunny morning weather and a light breeze as we drive to Lepsény, a village in Fejér county, one of the most economically developed regions in Hungary. Only 70 kilometers southwest of Budapest, it is a region with a huge variety of landscapes. The main road leads us directly to a big complex of buildings next to some railway lines and a mill: the seed processing plant of Mezőseed Ltd., a German- and French-owned company belonging to the Saaten Union Group.

ABOUT MEZŐSEED LTD.

  • Established in Lepsény in 1990 (70 kilometers southwest of Budapest)
  • German- and French-owned company belonging to the Saaten Union Group
  • Employees: 32
  • Treated seeds (annually): 7,500 tons of cereals, 1,000 tons of corn, 300 tons of soybeans, 200 tons of sunflower
  • Processed seeds for Hungarian market only: cereals and soybeans
  • Processed seeds for domestic market and exports to Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union: sunflower, corn
The 7.9-hectare site contains warehouses, laboratories for crop germination tests, and a highly advanced seed treater facility. “Our main product is cereal. We mostly produce winter wheat, winter barley, and other cereals in large volumes but hybrid wheat, whose treatment and packaging also takes place at our premises, represents an important segment of our work too,” explains Balázs Mátés, Executive Director of Mezőseed Ltd., while showing us around. But to understand the impact of cereals for the Hungarian market, it’s worth looking at the local areas under cultivation. Agriculture itself is a very important sector of the Hungarian economy. About 70 % of the country’s land area is suitable for agricultural production. “Hungarian agriculture is proud of its wheat production, which includes high-quality varieties, and cereals are the number one crop in Hungary,” says Csaba Csorba, Key Account Manager for Bayer SeedGrowth in Hungary. “We have around 4.5 million hectares of arable land in this country; 2.8 million hectares are used for cereal cultivation, such as winter wheat with around 1 million hectares, followed by winter barley with 200,000 hectares.” Moreover, seed production has a great tradition in Hungary, thanks to the country’s natural resources, the fertile soils, and its good climatic conditions.

7,500 tons of seeds treated per year

These figures also apply to the success of Mezőseed Ltd.’s seed treatment business: of all its products, grain is the most in demand among its customers, with a total volume of around 7,500 tons of seed treated per year. During peak season, Csaba Csorba keeps in touch with his customers on a weekly basis, making sure the seed treatment process is running smoothly. Having been with Bayer as an expert in seed treatment for more than 20 years now, he has become an experienced partner and advisor to his customers.
Click to enlarge

Csaba Csorba visiting the seed treatment facility of Mezőseed Ltd.

We arrive at a huge building. The seed treater is located right in the middle of this 2,000-square-meter hall – the perfect place to meet Krisztina Németh, Head of Laboratory and Quality Assurance at Mezőseed Ltd. Having joined Mezőseed Ltd. in August 2016, she is responsible for treatment materials and treatment procedures on site. While talking about the functionalities and benefits of the new treater, she also mentions her daily challenges in this highly advanced business. “Processing large amounts of seed also entails challenges related to the treatment itself,” she says. And having worked in this industry for nine years now, she is all too aware of them. “Generally speaking, the challenge, of course, is to place the active ingredient perfectly onto the seed,” she explains. “We work with a variety of crops, which means we have to use different kinds of recipes – finding the most suitable one for a certain seed, switching recipes and finding skilled workers who can operate treatment machines correctly on top of that, are definitely huge challenges for us.”

Looking for the perfect recipe

Understanding seed treatment as an innovative and sustainable technology, Bayer offers solutions for each phase of treating and processing. But what conditions are crucial for providing a good seed treatment recipe as mentioned above? “It’s all about the right choice and amount of product and the appropriate process parameters, including the perfect endpoint of the seed treatment,” says Heinz-Friedrich Schnier, Head of Global SeedGrowth Center. Processing and treating seeds for different customers is an additional challenge as often each customer requires his own recipe, including the choice of seed treatment products, seed coatings, and color. So a multitude of recipes need to be handled. “And this is exactly where Bayer SeedGrowth experts like Csaba Csorba come into play to train our customers on how to develop the perfect recipes for high-quality treated seeds,” says Heinz-Friedrich Schnier.
Click to enlarge

Processing large amounts of seed also entails challenges related to the treatment itself.

Mezőseed Ltd. knows this challenge all too well – using seed-applied products as well as different auxiliary materials such as Bayer SeedGrowth coatings – and Krisztina Németh knows the benefits of the partnership with Bayer: “I have very good experiences with Bayer and our relationship is really very good,” she says. She appreciates the knowledge exchange at eye level. “In the future, Bayer will visit us even more often and provide us with technical support in formulating different recipes for all the different kinds of crops that we treat here on site – and if they could help us in setting up the machines and getting to know the latest state-of-the-art technology in the future as well, that would be really great.”

Coated seeds contain less dust

Let’s get back to coatings. Why are they an integral part of Krisztina Németh’s business? It’s because dust abrasion during the seed treatment process and later at the time of sowing can become an issue – and thus pose another challenge for her and her team. “Of course, we want to avoid dust exposure whenever and wherever it is possible. That’s why we use seed coatings,” she says. According to tests, coated seeds contain a lot less dust than seeds without a seed coating. Emissions can be reduced by up to 95 % so everyone involved in seed treatment is better protected, and the active ingredients stay on the seed. Mezőseed Ltd. even goes the extra mile: the company provides farmers with information about sowing treated seeds safely to reduce dust emissions in the field as well. “Farmers are not always familiar with the rules that should be followed when sowing treated seeds,” mentions Krisztina Németh. “So we attach an information booklet, published by the European Seed Association (ESA), to each bag of treated seeds and advise our customers on what is needed to best protect themselves and the environment. We receive these booklets from Bayer.” The booklet is based on the European Seed Treatment Assurance scheme (ESTA), which is the European Seed Association's quality assurance scheme for the application of plant protection products to seed, handling, and use of treated seed.

Reaching out to smaller agribusinesses

Stewardship measures like these play a major role in a country like Hungary, where seeds are still very often treated on-farm. This is something Csaba Csorba continually encounters during his customer visits. “The majority of seed treatments are not done in big treatment facilities like this, but rather on-farm. And when we talk about on-farm treatment, we mainly talk about smaller farms,” he explains. That’s why he sees a lot of room for improvement here. “These smaller farming businesses require knowledge and support, because in some cases things are not done properly there.”
But how can Bayer SeedGrowth support these farmers as well? “We have a network of salespeople who give lectures about our products, and these lectures are also organized jointly together with the crop protection institutes here in Hungary, which are located in each of the 19 counties,” Bayer SeedGrowth expert Csaba Csorba says. By doing this, they are able to approach even the smaller farmers, for example when the season for cereal seed treatment is approaching.

Welcome to Bóly: the home of farming

The seed treatment facility that appears on our agenda just 24 hours later is anything but small. It takes us another 200 kilometers of travel to get there and reach our final destination of Bóly in the south of Hungary, where another of Csaba Csorba’s customers is located. Although this little town – with its 4,000 residents – looks like a quiet place, surrounded by numerous fields covered with wheat and oilseed rape, Bóly ranks among Hungary’s major regions for agricultural cultivation and the treatment of seeds. And it is also one of the most famous winegrowing areas in Hungary. So to make a long story short: Bóly is an agrarian-oriented place. A place characterized by a wealth of agricultural expertise.
Click to enlarge

Csaba Csorba with Katrin Potz, Plant Manager at Bóly Seed Company.

The morning shift has already started when we meet Katrin Potz, Plant Manager at Bóly Seed Company, which is part of the Bonafarm Group. The plant, situated on 6.5 hectares, includes various buildings such as warehouses, a seed processing facility, and a laboratory, and is located on the outskirts of Bóly. “An average of 80 people work here all year round – during peak season the number rises to 200. Because the Bóly farm itself used to operate as a government-owned estate back in its early years, this area has been home to farming for a long time,” says Katrin Potz. “The climatic conditions and the soil conditions are very good for growing plants and that makes it very well suited to seed production as well. The company was established in 1958 – a corn dryer was the very first machine deployed here. And that is basically how the plant originated back then.”

ABOUT BÓLY SEED COMPANY & BONAFARM

  • Established in Bóly in 1958 (200 kilometers south of Budapest)
  • Part of the Bonafarm Group (consisting of agricultural enterprises and food-processing enterprises)
  • Employees: 80 (200 in peak season)
  • Treated seeds (annually): 8,000 tons of hybrid corn, 4,000 tons of cereals, 1,500 tons of soybeans
  • Processed seeds (annually): 10,000 tons of hybrid corn, 6,000 tons of cereals, 5,000 tons of soybeans (cereals and soybeans for Hungarian market only)
  • Processed seeds for domestic market and export to countries like Russia or Ukraine: hybrid corn
Click to enlarge

Up to 15,000 tons of seeds are treated in the Boly plant every year.

Cereal seeds exclusively for the Hungarian market

Today, the plant itself processes large quantities of seeds for a variety of crops. In terms of numbers, between 10,000 and 15,000 tons of seeds are treated in the Bóly plant each year. The biggest volume is hybrid corn, accounting for almost 8,000 tons, followed by up to 4,000 tons of cereals and 1,500 tons of soybeans. That comes to a total of 240 tons of treated seed per day in the best case, depending on the seed that is treated. “For the Hungarian market we mainly produce seed for cereals and soybean,” Katrin Potz explains. “And for the international market – which mostly means countries like Ukraine, Russia, and the rest of Europe – we mainly produce hybrid corn for different breeders.”
Together with Katrin Potz, we ascend to the second level of the seed treatment facility. The treatment of a batch of soybeans is well underway. Wheat treatments were already finished several weeks ago. It is essential that all machines run accurately, especially in the peak season. Any downtime poses the danger of bad treatment results, which can become very expensive. Having machines that don’t run accurately can sometimes be a challenge for treaters like Katrin Potz. But what other challenges does she face in her daily business? “The main challenge for us in the plant is to constantly be able to meet the growing demands to supply high-quality seeds,” she says. “Another challenge is also to be flexible in production, so that we have the right quantities on hand at the right time.” Why is this flexibility so important? “The problem is due to the fact that the market has changed in such a way that orders are no longer placed in advance, but instead you have to be able to respond to specific orders in a more flexible way, you have to treat smaller quantities of seeds in a shorter time for example.”
Click to enlarge

Germination tests are an essential part of Boly Seed Company’s daily business.

Always right on the scene

For Katrin Potz it is important to be in constant contact with her Bayer SeedGrowth expert. “I have been active in the seed business since 1994 and have always been in contact with Bayer since that time,” she explains. “If we have a question and a problem has to be resolved on site, then a Bayer colleague is always right there. Also, when Bayer needs to check or see how the seed treatment equipment is running, they can come at any time and check the equipment here on site as well.” Katrin Potz pauses and reflects on the partnership. Then she adds, “Above all, it’s important for both Bayer and us to constantly tackle new challenges and work on them together.”
At the end of our research trip to Hungary, we learned that advanced seed treatment companies like Mezőseed Ltd. or Bóly Seed Company often have to face the same, or at least similar, challenges. Having a well-established and trusted partner like Bayer SeedGrowth expert Csaba Csorba at their side can help them tackle these challenges much more easily. “Our customers want to give their clients the best possible high-quality treated seeds. And Bayer SeedGrowth can provide them with good solutions so that Hungarian agriculture can remain successful and competitive.”
2.8 million hectares are used for cereal cultivation, such as winter wheat with around 1 million hectares, followed by winter barley with 200,000 hectares.
Share this article on: