Courtesy Thresher Artisan Wheat
BLACKFOOT, Idaho — Thresher Artisan Wheat is upgrading the seed treatment facilities at its Blackfoot and Idaho Falls plants, which should boost their performance and capacity while enabling farmers to customize their pesticides.
Brett Wilken, Idaho production manager with Thresher, said new seed treatment systems were installed in both plants in 2010. But Wilken said both lines have reached their capacity, and equipment with better capabilities is now available.
Wilken said Thresher has already installed the seed treatment lines and will finish work on the mixing equipment in late December. Wilken said he discovered the NOVO Seed Care Prescription Management System, manufactured by Agrilead, Inc., of Russell, Kan., a couple of years ago at the Idaho-East Oregon Seed Association’s seed show.
The new system should evenly treat more than 99 percent of the seed that passes through it — an improvement of about 5 to 10 percent from the prior system. Wilken said the new systems will have the capacity to treat up to 3,000 pounds of seed per minute, enabling Thresher to boost production from a maximum of 1,300 pounds per minute in Blackfoot and 2,000 pounds per minute in Idaho Falls.
Tony Severa, with Syngenta, said his company is partnering with Thresher on the upgrades, supplying the chemicals and testing how well the machinery works.
“It ensures a more consistent delivery on seed, and we’re testing that to make sure it makes the specs,” Severa said.
The previous lines required operators to manually mix water with the appropriate quantities of chemicals. The new system is fully automated, reducing the potential for human error, and its application rates are based on weight rather than seed volume.
“The computer knows how much weight is going through the system and it applies the right amount of chemical,” Wilken said.
Wilken believes farmers haven’t paid much attention to their seed treatments in the past, reasoning “if it looks pink, it’s treated.” The new systems will generate reports precisely documenting each treatment for farmers. The automation will also make it feasible for farmers to chose specific products, in desired quantities, to meet individual field needs.
“Maybe they have a field that has a lot of wireworm in it. They can increase the amount of insecticide on that load,” Wilken explained.
University of Idaho cereal pathologist Juliet Marshall sees significant benefits to customizing seed treatments, rather than taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach. For example, she said farmers with metalaxyl-resistant pythium blight in their fields will have the ability to change chemistries.
“It’s important for growers to only use pesticides for the pests that are known to be in their field,” Marshall said. “It’s also important to reduce the development of additional resistance.”