Farmers must control seed treatment dust
Leading edge research, led by Art Schaafsma, at the Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph, has confirmed that seed treatment dust from planters is responsible for most seed treatment chemical escapes into the surrounding environment.
“After three years of research studying multiple pathways and movement of dust from air/vacuum planters, our goal should be to reduce all residue escapes by 90 per cent,” Schaafsma says.
Based on the research, Schaafsma identified five recommendations to farmers:
1. Ensure pesticides stay on the seed by using approved fluency agents and polymers.
2. Avoid abrasive seed lubricants.
3. Filter and redirect planter exhaust dust into the soil.
4. Ensure clean air flows through the vacuum intakes.
5. Practice conservation tillage to minimize soil movement.
Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency recently released a proposed re-evaluation decision, which would see Imidacloprid phased out in three to five years. In referencing this action regarding this commonly used seed treatment, Dr. Paul Sibley, scientist and toxicologist at the University of Guelph says “Intermediate solutions and options must be considered to allow the industry to adjust and adapt to new technology.”
Schaafsma further indicates there are new developments in the works with planter filters, cyclones to filter and stabilize dust, as well as polymers to more firmly attach pesticide product to the seed. He is also encouraging farmers to collaborate with industry to work on restricting dust movement.
Many industry partners have been looking forward to results of Schaafsma’s research in an effort to better respond to public concerns over pollinator health, aquatic insects and environmental concerns.
This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2, with the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement being a key partner.