Figure 1. Treated corn seed.
This season’s planting will soon be in full gear and a good proportion of the acres will be planted with treated seed. Seed treatments provide protection against soil-borne pathogens and insect pests which might interfere with plant stand establishment. Pathogens may cause seeds or seedlings to rot, which causes poor plant emergence or may infect seedling roots leading to seedling death. Insect pests that feed on seeds, seedling roots, or developing seedlings may reduce plant stands or plant photosynthetic capabilities.
The pesticides used to treat seeds are restricted use and require pesticide applicator certification to use. These product labels will also contain information describing the level of risk associated with them. Most of these products are labeled with the signal words warning or danger. When treating or handling treated seed, safety guidelines must be followed to avoid exposure. Seed treatment applicators and people handling treated seed may be exposed to pesticides mainly through skin absorption or inhalation of pesticide dusts. Always use personal protection equipment recommended on the pesticide label and on the treated seed bag tag (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Treated seed bag tag provides information on safety guidelines when handling treated seed.
The label information also provides guidelines on how to deal with leftover seed. For some of the active ingredients, disposal of leftover seed may require taking it to a certified landfill, incinerator, or a biofuel processing plant. For other active ingredients, burial of the seed or planting it in fallow land may be done. Seed should not be buried near water sources. Treated seed spills in the field should be handled responsibly. Cover spilled treated seed in the field with soil to avoid wild life feeding on the seed.
To find out certified locations where leftover seed or other toxic waste may be disposed of, call the state office of Environment and Natural Resources at 605.773.3153 or visit the SD Solid Waste Facilities website.
The Bottom Line
Following guidelines on the seed treatment product label ensures safety for the applicators, individuals planting the treated seed, and lessens environmental impacts of pesticides. Treated seed should never be used for food or feed. For more information on seed treatments and stewardship visit The Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship website.
It should be noted that not every field needs or benefits from seed treatment. Fields with a history of soil-borne pathogens or early season insects may benefit from seed treatments. Seed treatment will not compensate for poor quality seed. Use certified clean disease-free seed of varieties with disease or pest resistance/tolerance genes.