Seed Treatments: Are They Really Necessary?

Soybean seed treatments. Photo: Ohio State University

We live in a time of fake news; coverage designed to mislead and advocate one viewpoint. No, I don’t need any scientific citations to back this claim up; we all know it is true. I’m writing tonight to bring a very balanced and well-referenced article to your attention, one that deals with the benefits and downsides of the seed treatments put on our corn, cotton, soybean and other seed.

Beginning around 15 years ago, seed treatments became commonplace on corn seed, and it is now virtually impossible for High Plains growers to buy any seed without these treatments.

Research has shown that the treatments often provide little if any benefit, but sometimes they do, like in our corn that has corn rootworms resistant to Bt toxins. But without the rootworm threat the value of seed treatments is far more questionable. On the other hand, cotton often benefits because of the near-constant thrips pressure early in the year, and the fact that aldicarb is not routinely used at planting anymore.

Today we buy a whole package in a bag; crop genetics, Bts, insecticides, fungicides, and more. It is no longer a simple choice, and in most cases there is no longer a choice to buy one component without all of the others.

In what I consider to be a rare moment of good journalism these days, a writer at Progressive Farmer DTN has written a thoroughly documented article on the issues around seed treatments. She provides web links to many reputable sources that either support seed treatments or argue against them.

Spend some time and read it; you will both agree and disagree, but remember that long ago that is what good journalism used to be like: here.

I have suggested to TAMU that this article become required reading for Integrated Pest Management on campus; farming is a complicated business and we have choices, some of which serve us well, and some of which do not, and the difference may depend on whether one is looking at the short term or long term. It is complicated.

I am grateful that a real journalist did the hard work to examine all sides of an issue, provide evidence each way, and let the reader decide




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