“For many years Mesurol (methiocarb) has been the ubiquitous seed dressing on maize seed but has now been withdrawn and only limited Mesurol-treated seed is available for 2020 drilling.
“Most seed this year will be treated with a replacement dressing with the active ingredient ziram and farmers need to be clear what dressing has been used on their seed.
He says most ziram treated seed will have been treated with the product Korit, although some own brand products have also been used. Ziram has some particular risks and seed must be handled carefully with the appropriate personal protective equipment used at all times when handling ziram treated seed.
“When opening the seed bags and when filling or emptying the seed drill hoppers, avoid exposure to dust and the transfer of dust from the seed bag into the seed drill hoppers.
“The bags themselves will need careful handling and disposal. Do not leave empty bags lying around and dispose of them in accordance with current legislation. Return all unused treated seeds to their original bags and do not re-use empty bags for other purposes.”
Mr Richmond says new generation biological seed dressings offer significant benefits with none of the risks associated with chemical treatments. Starcover, which is available with most LG maize varieties this season, contains a polymer and a biological compound which together have a significant impact on root and plant development.
“Biological dressings offer a safe alternative to traditional chemical treatments, although they work in a different way. Rather than being seen as an insurance premium you spend in case of a bird risk, they can be seen as an investment in a stronger plant and potentially a bigger crop.”
However, as most seed this year will be treated with Korit (ziram) he urges farmers to make sure they brief their contractors about the seed treatment used.
“With a wider range of seed treatments being used this year and more product names, every farmer has a duty of care to make sure the contractor knows in advance what seed treatment has been used so they can take steps to ensure the Health and Safety of their drivers and provide necessary PPE as required.
“Don’t assume they will know which product has been used and make sure the contractor has access to relevant safety data sheets which will be on the bag or downloadable from seed company websites.”