Seed treatments offer a host of benefits for getting soybeans off to a strong start. They help preserve the yield potential of your soybean crop by promoting germination and protecting young seedlings from diseases, fungus and insects.

According to the United Soybean Board (USB), the use of seed treatments is on the rise. In fact, the soybean industry estimates that 60 to 70 percent of the 2014 soybean seed planted will have a seed treatment. That’s compared with 30 percent in 2008 and 8 percent in 1996, according to Gary Munkvold, Ph.D., plant pathology and microbiology professor at Iowa State University.

And while the instructions for the safe use of seed treatment products and treated seed are on the labels or seed tags, there’s more to remember as you prepare for planting:

  • Always follow product label instructions for applying seed treatments and instructions found on the treated seed tag.
  • Minimize exposure to seed treatments, treated seed and dust from treated seed.
  • For your own safety and to protect the environment, don’t overlook the following precautions:
    • Signal word (e.g., “Caution”)
    • Seed treatment product use and disposal restrictions
    • Treated seed plant-back intervals and grazing restrictions
    • Specific seed planting, storage and disposal restrictions and recommendations

When Treating Seed

  • Read, understand and follow product label instructions and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
  • Use available engineering and system controls to minimize exposure to the seed treatment product and to ensure accurate application.
  • Maintain and calibrate application equipment.
  • Use specified Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Ensure workers are adequately trained with training documentation.

When Transporting Treated Seed

  • Follow the safety precautions indicated on the seed tag. Avoid mechanical damage to treated seed and packaging.
  • Transport seed in a way that no seeds are spilled.
  • Protect seed from heat and moisture.
  • Be aware of storage requirements and limitations.
  • Take precautions to avoid spillage when handling.
    • In case of spills, collect the treated seed immediately.
    • Properly dispose of spillage to prevent exposure to humans, animals or the environment.

When Handling Treated Seed

  • Thoroughly read and follow seed tag instructions. Ensure that all seed tag requirements are met.
  • Use specified Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Avoid exposure to dust when opening and/or emptying treated seed packaging.
  • Ensure handlers are adequately trained with training documentation.
  • Properly dispose of any spillage to prevent exposure to humans, animals or the environment.
  • Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
    • When selecting PPE, always read and follow product label and/or seed tag instructions. This may include long pants, long-sleeved shirt/coveralls, chemical-resistant gloves, shoes and socks, etc.
    • Additional PPE may be required for operation of equipment related to Safe Handling and Transport of Treated Seeds. Reference required or suggested PPE as indicated by the equipment manufacturer.
    • Additional PPE may include such items as foot, ear, respirator and head protection.

Always call the manufacturer’s number in the event of an emergency or for answers to specific product questions.

We want to hear from you: Are you using seed treatments? What advice do you have to share with other farmers about what you’ve learned by using seed treatments? Tell us in the forum.

Content for this post was adapted from The Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship, an all-in-one guide for treating and managing treated seed effectively. Interested in learning more about seed treatments? Still considering whether seed treatments are right for your farm? USB offers information on 6 things farmers should know about seed treatments.

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