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Coated Seed Vs. Non-Coated Seed

September 12, 2023

Seed coatings, pelleted seed, treated seed — each is derived from various technologies being innovated upon to greatly improve the lives and businesses of farmers, especially their yields and profits. Still, there have been some misconceptions on whether or not to coat seeds.

Although farmers of all stripes who use these seed technologies empirically report the benefits of using coated seeds with every growing season, and as technologies are further innovated and improved upon, we’ll continue this important discussion.

Nutrient coating: the biggest technology boost for your seeds

Of all angles to seed coating technology benefits, none has a greater abundance of research and studies showing their effectiveness than nutrient-based coatings. Micronutrient coatings like zinc, phosphorus, iron, and other elemental nutrients are the most widespread technologies used in the agricultural sphere, achieving many benefits—including more successful seed emergence, seedling health, and even protection against seed pests.

Many studies demonstrating this are mentioned in a major piece of research on seed coating technology. Research reliably shows again and again how nutrient coatings are worth the investment for your seeds and your yields. While some studies don’t show a direct correlation between seed coatings and higher yields (thus higher profits), there is a definite established correlation between seed coating technology and enhanced seed emergence of seedling health— an important step for growers on the road to successful yields and profits nonetheless.

Improved germination, seedling success, and yields

One study showed that seed coatings made with zinc minerals greatly helped enhance seedling emergence and germination. They also tested chlorophyll contents of the plants to find that wheat grown with zinc seed coating increased chlorophyll content and, thus, plant material content and health.

Later in the study, it was noted that enhanced emergence and seedling health led to greater yields that year, assumed to indicate greater profits as well. In another study, seeds coated with iron micronutrients were similarly shown to enhance seedling emergence by simultaneously protecting seeds from predating birds and fungal disease.

Enhanced drought tolerance

Yet another study on coated seeds showed an added benefit from the technology: nutrient seed coatings helped seeds and seedlings withstand drought conditions better, and in a variety of ways. With help from the micronutrient right at the germination phase, growth of the wheat plant was accelerated; yields also showed higher amounts of wheat seed and chaff produced.

The study also noted that the low amounts of zinc supplied by seed coating helped far better at improving drought condition tolerance than larger amounts of zinc. All of these were enhancements proven in drought conditions, indicating that seed coating technology could play an important role in climate patterns or arid growing areas in decades to come.

Cold weather protection for early planting

For some seed varieties and growing regions, nutrient seed coatings may enhance seed emergence along with cold temperature protection. One study showed that seeds treated with a sodium and salicylic acid coating experienced greater resilience against cold temperatures that would usually slow down germination and growth. The result was these coated seeds grew faster and more vigorously, despite it being colder than their optimal germination temperatures.

This can be a great asset for farmers looking for early planting, a great agricultural tool for boosting yields and profits.

Organic material coatings: furthering seedling emergence and health

Besides nutrients, seed coatings made with organic materials like urea, natural acids, bentonite clay, talcum, and other materials can lend seeds a helpful hand. And, like nutrient coatings, they can help achieve similar benefits.

One previously mentioned study on zinc-coated wheat seeds also showed that an additional coating of urea, a natural seed coating technology, helped both zinc and each seed’s ability to withstand drought stress. This may have something to do with urea’s ability to enhance moisture absorbability, a great asset for seeds amid drought.

In another study, this time on coated (pelleted) seeds, talcum and bentonite clay helped boost germination, emergence, seedling health, nutrient uptake, and moisture uptake in seeds. Especially when also combined with a major micronutrient, organic material seed coatings— hand-in-hand with minerals— can be a winning combo for seedling and yield success.

Microbial inoculants: extra protection and nutrient status

One of the latest innovations in seed coating technology: living coatings. Meaning, coatings or treatments that are made up of helpful soil microbes such as beneficial bacteria and fungi.

These can serve multiple purposes: rhizobacteria inoculated coatings boost nitrogen uptake for legume and cover crop seeds, for example. But they can also have a disease protective effect— one study shows that seed coatings incorporating endophytic fungi like Glomus intraradices, Trichoderma atroviride, and Glomus mossae not only boosted establishment and growth of seedlings by enhancing soil health and nutrient uptake. The presence of the fungi also protected the seeds (and seedlings) from disease-causing fungi.

Interested in the many benefits of seed coating technology? Get in touch with our team today.

seeds with seed coatings being planted by hand in soil

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