There is some debate in the agricultural world around seed treatments or seed coating technology. Are seed coatings worth it? Considering their extra costs to producer pocketbooks (even though priced less expensively than chemical treatments to mature plants), are they worth the extra costs incurred to growers, no matter their approach?
When it comes to chemical-free, regenerative, or sustainable options however, there is little to no debate: coating technologies made of organically approved materials provide both a cost effective and substantial margin of benefits to the farmer and with little impact on the environment or soil health. In many cases, they even improve farmland soil health, thus furthering the farmer’s bottom line over the long term.
Regenerative farmers: don’t discount seed coatings. As their diversity and technology are continuously improved upon, innovated, and trialed for efficacy among growers and researchers, it won’t surprise many to see them soon become a standard among organic and regenerative growers as a reliable and affordable edge above the competition.
Contrary to popular belief, not all seed coatings or treatments are chemically based
Pesticide, herbicide, and fungicide-coated seeds are certainly the mainstream standard in the seed treatment world. They provide many benefits and security for farmers.
Enter: non-chemical and organic seed coating technology. These coatings think outside the usual farming box by providing advantages such as hydration drawing (making sure seeds receive uniform irrigation), hydration-locking (making sure moisture stays where it needs to be for optimal germination), and even an enrichment of organic friendly micronutrients and microbes to ensure that seedlings get the right start for yield success.
Seed coating technology can utilize naturally based minerals for seedling success
Every spring, seeds germinate. Their next step to success is to put down substantial roots for accessing the nutrients and minerals they need to thrive. Thankfully, organic seed coatings rich in micronutrients help seal the deal for this next step, setting them on an even faster track towards optimal yields and profits for growers.
They do this by bringing nutrients exactly where they need to be: right at the planting site, instead of leaving seedlings to expend energy in search of them. These micronutrients include calcium carbonate in some coatings to both feed seedlings AND the soil life around them for optimal success.
Some seed coatings utilize soil microbes for seedling success (like rhizobia)
Soil life may be the greatest tool of the regenerative farmer. And, speaking of soil life, this is a tool that seed coating technology can provide regenerative growers in spades— and at an affordable cost.
Some seed coatings on legume commercial or cover crop plantings are designed to contain rhizobia: the bacteria necessary for nitrogen fixation to take place. Without them legumes may form root nodules to trigger fixation— but nitrogen will not be produced without rhizobia.
Compared to the time, labor, costs, and upkeep farmers must sustain using the alternative (rhizobia inoculants directly to soil in between plantings alongside nitrogen inputs), seed coatings that provide rhizobia right at the planting site are a much more affordable and low-labor choice in the long run— a win-win for farmers.
Seed coating technology can enhance moisture availability and irrigation
Farmers of all backgrounds worry about germination rates. It’s one of the most crucial goals— if not THE crucial goal— growers aim to ensure the best yields possible. Of course, optimal germination almost completely relies on adequate moisture and irrigation, and especially having moisture go to the right place: straight to the seed.
Organic seed coating technology can help seeds turn this corner for higher germination rates. With absorbent compounds like Hydroloc designed to keep both moisture AND nutrients close to the seed, you’ll raise germination rates while lowering costs. Other organic coating additives can assist a “wicking” moisture effect designed to draw moisture from soil right to where it needs to be.
Organic or regenerative seedlings need the help from seed coatings even more
Because regenerative, organic, and otherwise sustainable growers need to work around a lot more obstacles to successful yields without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides (or herbicides and fungicides), these categories of growers are the best positioned and suited for working with seed coatings. In fact, seed coating technologies could put them toe-to-toe with their conventional competitors: a huge incentive for regenerative growing.
Growers that choose coated seeds over other agricultural approaches get even more leverage: they cut down on costs while reaping similar, if not identical, benefits to other farmers especially where increasingly expensive inputs such as fertilizers are concerned.For both organic and conventional growers alike, seed technology may be the future. It is currently on track for it: yielding environmentally friendly benefits to regenerative growers such as stronger seedlings, better soil health, and enhanced germination rates while translating to higher yields and profits for farmers.