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Pioneer Seed Treating System Provides Right Treatment Each Batch

DES MOINES, IA - In keeping with Pioneer’s strategy of “Right Product, Right Acre,” Pioneer Hi-Bred, working in collaboration with Bayer CropScience, has developed the Pioneer seed treating system, a new seed treating process that provides the right treatment for each batch.

Today, farmers who are purchasing treated seed corn are demanding more from the seed treatment on each seed. “The Pioneer seed treating system has been developed as a way to accomplish that,” said Jeff Daniels, seed technology manager for North American Production.

“The Pioneer seed treating system has given us more flexibility to apply different chemicals, as well as with higher loading amounts,” Daniels said.

In a conventional batch seed corn treatment system used in the industry, various chemicals are stored in large drums or totes and then mixed together in a slurry. One problem with this method is that the amount of slurry left over can mean that some of this chemical is left unused and must be disposed. Employees who mix, transport and dispose of the slurry must be aware of the safety issues that come with potential exposure to chemicals.

In contrast to the conventional system, the Pioneer seed treating system allows an exact amount of application of chemicals for a particular batch. Up to 17 different chemicals (plus water) could be applied to a particular batch of seed – more than the conventional process which can only mix up to 14 chemicals. Typically, six or seven chemicals are applied per batch. These chemicals can include fungicides, insecticides, nematicides, and biologicals. In addition, colorants are applied to distinguish pesticide- treated seed from seed or grain that does not include pesticides. Also, polymer coatings are used to hold the chemicals on the seed and assist with seed flow and plantability. With the Pioneer seed treating system, the ratio of these chemicals is automatically read from a database and can be varied for each batch, depending upon the desired recipe.

In the Pioneer seed treating system, the chemicals used in seed treatment are transported to a facility in drums or totes ranging in size from 30 to 260 gallons . When it is time to treat the corn, these chemicals are then transferred to smaller day tanks and even smaller Loss Weight Canisters. The Loss Weight Canisters are resting on a highly accurate scale; and both the canister and pumps to deliver chemical to and from the canisters are controlled by a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). This PLC controller calculates the proper ratio of chemicals based upon seed count, weight and recipe, and it can control the ratio of chemicals flowing into a static mixer.

The static mixer does not rotate, but instead has fins inside of it that mix the chemicals. Through use of the static mixer, various chemicals can be applied at different times. The pumps and valves connected to the static mixer are controlled by the PLC, and the controller can monitor the application of chemical treatments down to a milligram (mg) of active ingredient per batch.

After the chemicals pass through the static mixer, they are applied to the seed in a computerized bowl treater. Inside the bowl treater is a spinning disk that atomizes the chemicals which allows for more thorough distribution to the seed.

The equipment that Pioneer uses for the seed treating system was built using Gustafson brand equipment from Bayer CropScience, located in Shakopee, Minn.

One of the main advantages of the Pioneer seed treating system is that it allows individual facilities to limit the waste that can occur as a byproduct of seed corn treatment. This not only reduces storage and disposal costs, but is also in keeping with DuPont's Core Value of good environmental stewardship.

The first facility to adopt the Pioneer seed treating system was the Johnston (IA) Parent Seed Facility in 2007. At that time, the Johnston Parent Seed facility needed a way to cut down on waste and also needed to track which chemicals were applied to batch of seed, recalled Mike Dammen, the project engineer who oversaw the installation. The adoption of this system was a way to do that.

Employee safety was another benefit that the Johnston Parent Seed Facility saw by adopting the Pioneer seed treating system, said Dick Hora, plant manager. The new process limited the Johnston employees' exposure to chemicals because they no longer had to make new slurries each day, nor did they have to handle leftover slurry, he said.

In Reinbeck, IA, a facility which recently adopted the Pioneer seed treating system, operators can now apply more seed treatments, and this has allowed for better optimization of each seed, said Colby Entriken, production location manager in Reinbeck.

“Our consistency has been better because the operator has more control,” agreed Erik Bachman, a production technician at the facility.

Through the greater consistency offered by the Pioneer seed treating system, the company is ensuring that its treated seed corn meets its strategy of “Right Product, Right Acre.”