Helping Your Seed Succeed

Posted in: Plant Enhancement Technology

How a nutritional seed dressing benefits crops out of the gate

Agricultural seed dressings have come a long way. Developed to get the seed off to the strongest possible start, they lay the groundwork for healthy germination and offer protection against common stressors.

Nutritional seed dressings provide a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Improved seedling vigour through added nutrients
  • Greater vigour
  • Superior germination
  • Faster emergence
  • An extended growing season
  • Improved nutrient uptake
  • Enhanced root development
  • Added protection against common stressors (such as disease, temperature, excessive moisture/drought)

Immediate access to nutrients

Nutritional seed dressings can provide immediate access to vital nutrients at the earliest growth stages. A dressing will typically include those nutrients required to get plants off to a healthy start, yet may not be readily available in the soil.

Phosphorus is one of the key nutrients that can be delivered through a nutritional seed dressing. Phosphorus is essential for seedling establishment. It facilitates the development and growth of the root system, is central to energy processes necessary for growth and photosynthesis, and is a key component of nucleic acids, proteins and enzymes.

Nutritional dressings help overcome one of the greatest challenges associated with Phosphorus: its lack of mobility in the soil. Phosphorus needs to be within 1mm of the plant root to be absorbed. A nutritional seed dressing can solve this problem, providing immediate access to this vital nutrient.

Seed dressings can also promote early relationships with beneficial microorganisms in the soil such mycorrhizae, which aid in nutrient absorption.

Promoting healthier germination and earlier emergence

A nutritional seed dressing will improve vigour and viability. This allows the seed to germinate faster and more efficiently than non-treated seed.

How nutritional dressings fight stress

Nutritional seed dressings are formulated to help the plant fight off stressors that can impact development.

One way is by promoting root growth and enhancing the absorption of nutrients. This can make the plant stronger, healthier and more tolerant to disease.

Temperature also has a direct impact on germination. Different crops have different minimum germination temperatures. If the soil is too cool germination can be delayed. A nutritional seed dressing can enhance germination even in unfavourably cool conditions.

Minimum germination temperatures for various crops:

  • Canola: 5°C
  • Wheat: 4°C
  • Barley: 3°C
  • Oats: 5°C
  • Corn: 10°C
  • Soybeans: 10°C
  • Edible Beans: 10°C
  • Peas: 4°C
  • Sunflowers: 6°C

Achieving consistent results with nutrient dressings

Nutritional seed dressings are all about helping your crop get off to a stronger start, so it can achieve its potential. But how do you ensure your seed dressing is living up to its potential?

Some growers have found that consistency can be a challenge when using seed dressings. One year, they will get fantastic results, while the next year will be only average. There are many reasons for inconsistency, most of which can be avoided.

  1. Invest in a good quality seed. It all begins by choosing hardy, high-quality seed that will provide the vigour you demand.
  2. Ensure all seed is uniformly coated. Be sure to carefully follow the mixing instructions. Many seed dressings contain a coloured dye, to serve as a visual guide.
  3. Choose a reputable, high-quality nutritional seed dressing product. Not all nutritional dressings are created equally. Some brands are proven to provide superior coverage and are formulated with advanced delivery mechanisms that maximize the absorption of nutrients by the plant at the early growth stage. Look for one that offers the advantage of earlier emergence and increased performance under stress conditions. Ask your retailer, seed provider or agronomist which products work best in your region, and on your crop.
  4. Consider environmental conditions. To fairly evaluate the effectiveness of a nutritional seed dressing, it is important to determine if environmental conditions were a factor. Early drought, excessive moisture, extreme temperature and pests can all impact seedling establishment.
  5. Choose a nutritional dressing that helps fight against these stresses. A good seed dressing not only promotes early emergence and delivers key nutrients required for growth; it will equip the plant to better deal with stress conditions.

Dressed for success

A nutritional seed dressing is a powerful, yet relatively economical, tool that will give your crops a leg up. If you are producing your own seed, a seed dressing is an investment that will offer significant benefits. If you’re buying seed, be sure to ask what dressing is being used and what advantages it offers.

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