Handling Treated Seed

Planting seed treated with an insecticide or fungicide gives the plant a fighting chance by safeguarding against disease, which then optimizes yields. However, it’s critical that farmers follow handling instructions on the seed bag label to avoid environmentally-sensitive exposure to the chemicals.

Liz Stahl is an Extension crop educator at the University of Minnesota. She says treated seed can generate dust, which is often harmful to pollinators such as bees. Do what you can to cut down the dust.

"There’s a lot of work being done on that. I know seed companies are looking at different polymers, also it’s an equipment manufacturer issue too. One thing that we recommend farmers do is just be aware of where you’re filling up the planter, cleaning out the planter," says Stahl. "Wherever you’ve got flowering plants, basically you can expect bees to be out there foraging so if you can fill or clean out that planter away from flowering plants, that’s going to really help."

Treated seed spilled on the ground should be cleaned up or covered with soil because it can be toxic for birds and wildlife.  Any seed that’s not used should be disposed of properly. Stahl says there is zero tolerance in the export market for treated seed.

"There’s a good reason why treated seed has a colorant on there, so it’s easily identifiable as being treated. You hear horror stories every once in awhile somebody just took a bag of left over treated seed, threw it in the wagon, and brought it to the elevator. Well, you can pick up that colored seed pretty easily, and you can get that whole lot rejected," she says. "That’s a pretty expensive mistake."