CropLife America on Friday released the results of its new seed treatment survey, attempting to gather more information on the economic and environmental aspects of seed treatments.
The report, which examines the uses of seed treatments, primarily fungicides and insecticides, and the impacts for growers, consumers and the environment, says seed treatments have the ability to help produce healthier, more uniform crops.
Seed treatments also increase crop value and allow growers to plant earlier in the season while reducing potential environmental exposure through precise application, CropLife said.
Seed treatments, which are direct applications of crop protection products to the surface of a seed prior to planting, suppresses pathogens and other pests that can impede the crop's health through its development.
CLF's report said the biggest benefits are economic, noting that seed treatment helped contribute to nearly $80 billion worth of value to American corn growers in 2011 through increased protection and greater crop yields.
In addition, modern seed varieties combined with effective seed treatments, can provide nearly 100% crop stand.
There are environmental benefits, too. According to the report, potential soil surface exposure is reduced by up to 90% compared to other application methods such as in-furrow applications or broadcast sprays and seed treatment technology has improved from application of ounces per hundred weight of seed to milligrams per individual seed.
As far as grower benefits, the report estimates that treatments against the fungus Thielaviopsis produced a 65% increase in cotton stands in California compared to untreated cotton seed.
In addition, seed treatment insecticides applied to rice seed in Arkansas reduced damage from grape colapsis larvae by up to 83% and yields of spring wheat and spring barley increased by 25% following the application of seed treatment, according to trials conducted at Montana State University.
Finally, neonicotinoid seed treatments more than doubled stands of sorghum in Louisiana research trials, CLA said.
CLF's chair of the board of directors Jay Vroom pointed out the report's additional data on neonic pesticides, noting, "CLF's new report includes detailed information on an array of seed treatment solutions, including neonicotinoid insecticides, which provide excellent control of many insect pests, and have also been shown to improve plant health.
"These products are strictly regulated in the U.S. by the EPA, and under science-based regulations, American farmers continue to reap the benefits of these products," he said.
The class of pesticides has been under scrutiny recently for an alleged link between neonicotinoid use and pollinator health.
But CLA added that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's current regulatory process for neonicotinoids and other crop protection products establishes protection levels for both humans and wildlife on the basis of numerous scientific tests.
"Strict product labeling standards established by EPA also ensure that products are used responsibly. Through a periodic review process, EPA continues to assess any potential risks of neonicotinoids and other crop protection products," a press statement noted.
Read the full report here.