Treating seeds is a fairly new agriculture tool to aid yield improvement and give your seeds a head start. By coating the exterior of the seeds with a protective layer of pesticides, fungicides or a boost of much needed nutrients, farmers should see an improvement in germination and greater quantities of healthy crops.
Soybeans are a popular crop to grow across the world, yet soybean seeds are one of the most fragile crop seeds farmers deal with. Could soybean seed treatment be the solution?
The problem with soybean seeds
Soybean seeds need caring for; if you’ve grown soybeans before, you’ll know that you can’t just chuck them in your seeder, sow them and hope for the best.
Soybean seeds have a much thinner coating than other crop seeds like corn and wheat, making them especially susceptible to low temperatures and moisture (if too much moisture gets inside the seed it can cause cell death). Furthermore, these tiny seeds are incredibly fragile; each time a sack of these seeds falls over, it’s estimated you’re staggeringly reducing germination by up to 10%!
You’ll want to ensure that you handle them with care when you’re transporting them around. Using a belt type seeder is a good idea too, as it’s one of the gentler seeder machine types which allow the seeds to fall through holes to the soil rather than being scooped up, under pressure or fired into the ground.
Caring for your soybean seeds doesn’t end there. If you really want soybean yield improvement you’ll need to care for them in the fields too; monitoring soil moisture levels, spraying herbicides etc.
This is why many farmers are now turning to treated seeds to give the soybean seeds some extra protection once they’re planted. By treating the seeds directly, rather than applying solutions to entire fields, you’re giving the seeds much needed protection.
Advantage of soybean seed treatments
- Treated soybean seeds should see that more soybean crops germinate. With this in mind, you can begin to reduce the number of seeds you’re buying, therefore reducing costs. Furthermore, as the seeds can be treated with fungicides and pesticides you can reduce the quantity of fungicides and pesticides you would normally buy for spraying your fields after sowing.
- Protect soybean seeds from disease and insects after planting. If you’re prone to specific pests on your fields or have a poor crop rotation that relies heavily on planting soybeans year after year, this seed treatment will help keep the seeds safe while they’re germinating.
- Another soybean treatment that you might find separate to the above is a fungicide treatment. There are some seed treatments that combine the two, but if you’re only worried about fungicides it might be worth just going for the fungi targeting treatment for increased effectiveness.
- The result of all these benefits is usually an increase in soybean crop germination, compared to soybean seeds that have been cared for in the same way without being treated.
Disadvantages of soybean seed treatments
- Weigh up the extra costs of treated seeds against the money you will save. How accurate is the data you’re working off? It may turn out that treated seeds aren’t as effective as you first thought. If you’re concerned about cost why not run a small trial of treated seeds this season to gather data for making a decision on using them in the next season.
- Treated seeds can potentially have an impact on the soil quality of your fields if there’s enough there to linger once the soybeans have germinated. As time goes by you may also find that resistance starts to occur if you’re continuously planting treated seeds.
- Heavy rain and cool temperatures will still hinder soybean germination whether they’ve been treated or not.
- In general farmers are divided on whether they truly make a difference to yields.
Overall, it seems that treating soybean seeds does help to improve soybean yield if growing conditions aren’t great, however if you’ve got your fields at optimum and take the time and care to sow your soybean seeds gently, then they should do great anyway!