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Seed soaker

Agriculture.com Staff 03/25/2008 @ 10:02am

When Gary Hirsch, Cynthiana, Indiana, invented his on-farm dry seed treatment system in 2006, it was out of necessity. Hirsch couldn't find a suitable treater that would dispense peat-based inoculants onto the seed accurately. So he invented his own, the G&L Seed Treater.

The waterproof 12-volt system features a stainless-steel cone, motor, agitator, and an encapsulated variable-speed controller to assist with rate control. It dispenses any dry seed treatment or inoculant product before the seed enters the auger conveyor or air system. Seeds are evenly and accurately coated as they travel to the planting device.

But Hirsch knew his invention must be capable of incorporating new technology in the future to keep the design at the cutting edge.

As the trend of seed treatments and inoculants moves more toward liquid-based formulations, Hirsch is ahead of the curve with a new liquid version for his system. Unlike its dry counterpart, the liquid version has precise application and an easy-to-use control system. It's designed to apply on-farm liquid formulations of seed treatment and inoculant products.

The liquid version features a poly tank, continuous agitation, 12-volt pump, drain for easy clean-out, an in-line clear bowl filter, pressure gauge, and an adjustable ball valve to help regulate rates.

The device is designed for use across many crops. A nozzle tip and a different orifice size bring an appropriate amount of pressure for the treatment being applied.

For added flexibility, the dry and liquid seed treaters can be used together or separately depending on needs. The range in application rates is almost limitless, and the inclusion of proximity switches ensures even application rates as soon as the seed flow begins. The systems are adaptable to any seed delivery system. With the electronics Hirsch has implemented, they become a seamless fit in an efficient operation.

Hirsch has also designed an optional feature for the treatment line that allows producers a way to treat seeds inside a seed tender underneath the seeds. This unique add-on applies the appropriate amount of seed treatment just before the seed enters the auger, conveyor, or air system. By doing this, the seed is evenly coated as it travels to the planting device. The dry or liquid system can be used in tandem or independently with this optional feature, depending on the producer's needs.

Ultimately, any piece of equipment and crop input has to show an economic advantage. In production agriculture, that economic advantage is yield.

Hirsch capitalized on his invention this past spring by using the seed treatment systems on the crops he raises with his father and brother. They grow approximately 2,700 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat.

A sterile peat-based inoculant, along with a liquid soybean growth promoter product, was mixed with talc and applied to the soybeans through the tandem liquid and dry treaters. The talc was used to aid in drying the seed treatment mixture and to assist in seed flow in many planting applications. Hirsch applied the treatments in the field just before planting.

"The yield difference was amazing between the treated and nontreated soybeans," Hirsch says. The soil types, drainage systems, and fertility programs were the same in both fields.

"We tried to beat the treated seeds by combining a curve through the best of the nontreated beans. We went along a ditch where they appeared to be the best beans in the field, obtaining a full 35-foot cut. Beans were left on both sides of the combine, and we compared them to the average treated seeds," he says.

"I was really impressed at how well the inoculant and growth promoter worked to boost the yields. All through the growing season and through terrible growing conditions, the treated beans were taller, greener, and looked healthier. But I would never have guessed they'd yield like they did," Hirsch says.

The field (95 acres) with the test plots averaged 56.8 bushels per acre, which was 6 bushels per acre more than the nontreated soybeans.

With seed costs on the rise and commodity prices at all-time highs in most areas, seed treatment makes sense. But it also has to be an economical and efficient process for the producer.

"Treating seeds in the springtime at planting can't slow farmers down or they're not going to mess with it," he says. The treaters not only perform with great accuracy but also allow producers to make last-minute decisions based on all planting scenarios.

The dry seed treater retails for $1,195; the liquid seed treater sells for $895. Both can be purchased directly through Hirsch.

Mike Blanding, cofounder of INTX Microbials, LLC (www.intxmicrobials.com), wanted to experience Hirsch's unit in action. "I wanted to see what the treater could do under the load of wheat and gain an understanding of how his technology worked," Blanding says.

Hirsch used the dry and liquid treaters this past fall on winter wheat. The Hirsches planted several different plots using a new growth-promoter product for wheat that INTX launched this past fall. They applied liquid Accolade growth promoter on wheat at 13 ounces per 120 pounds of seed along with 6 ounces of RTA fungicide and Nitroshield insecticide at a rate of 7.2 ounces.

The total liquid volume was 8.4 ounces per 50 pounds of seed wheat. The dry treater applied talc to the seed to assist in the drying process. According to Blanding, the seed was evenly coated, and the flow rate was excellent.

"I'm impressed by the G&L Seed Treater. I've never seen a seed treater apply such a high rate of product to the seed and not present problems with bridging of the seed. From what I saw at the Hirsch farm, INTX will look strongly at offering the G&L Seed Treater to our nationwide distribution channels," Blanding says.

"Whether you're farming 100 acres or 1,000, the G&L Seed Treater is going to save you time and make you money," Hirsch says.

When Gary Hirsch, Cynthiana, Indiana, invented his on-farm dry seed treatment system in 2006, it was out of necessity. Hirsch couldn't find a suitable treater that would dispense peat-based inoculants onto the seed accurately. So he invented his own, the G&L Seed Treater.

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