GUELPH -- Leading edge research, led by Dr. Art Schaafsma, at the Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph, has confirmed that seed treatment dust from planters is responsible for most seed treatment chemical escapes into the surrounding environment."
"After three years of research studying multiple pathways and movement of dust from air/vacuum planters, our goal should be to reduce all residue escapes by 90 per cent," said Schaafsma.
Based on the research, Schaafsma identified five recommendations to farmers:
" Ensure pesticides stay on the seed by using approved fluency agents and polymers;
" Avoid abrasive seed lubricants;
" Filter and redirect planter exhaust dust into the soil;
" Ensure clean air flows through the vacuum intakes; and
" Practise conservation tillage to minimize soil movement.
The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement (OSCIA) was a key partner in this research. This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.
"We are encouraging farmers to work proactively to manage planter dust, seek out solutions that fit their operations and avoid any off-site impacts," said Gord Green, past president of the OSCIA. "We want to ensure the continued use of our tried and proven tools, such as seed treatment, otherwise we may be faced with alternatives that are not as environmentally friendly."
Dr. Paul Sibley, scientist and toxicologist at the University of Guelph, agrees with Green. Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency recently released a proposed re-evaluation decision, which would see imidacloprid phased out in three to five years. In referencing this action regarding this commonly used seed treatment, Dr. Sibley asserts: "Intermediate solutions and options must be considered to allow the industry to adjust and adapt to new technology."
Schaafsma further indicates there are new developments in the works with planter filters, cyclones to filter and stabilize dust, as well as polymers to more firmly attach pesticide product to the seed. He is also encouraging farmers to collaborate with industry to work on restricting dust movement.
Many industry partners have been looking forward to results of this research in an effort to better respond to public concerns over pollinator health, aquatic insects and environmental concerns.