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New seed flow lubricant to be only one allowed on corn, soy

(Photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

With bees and other pollinators in mind, corn and soybean growers who’ve used seed flow lubricants when planting seed treated with neonicotinoid pesticides will have only one option this spring.

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has rolled out new guidelines for corn and soybean planting which will permit only the use of Bayer CropScience’s new “Fluency Agent” as a seed flow lubricant, when planting seed treated with any of the “neonics” — clothianidin, thiamethoxam or imidacloprid. [Related story]

Talc and graphite, previously used separately or together as lubricants for neonic-treated seed, are now “not permitted” as seed flow lubricants for corn or soybean seed treated with those products, PMRA said in a notice on its website.

Treatments used on corn and soybeans have been known to cause stickiness in seed, which hinders seed flow through planters and, until now, has been handled using the talc and/or graphite lubricants.

However, abrasion from the treated-seed coatings has been known to create dust made up of lubricant and pesticide, which can then be released from a planter’s exhaust system.

According to the U.S.-based Corn Dust Research Consortium, research has shown such “fugitive dust” represents a route by which bees may be exposed to pesticides, “even where suitable sticking agents are used and seeding equipment vents downward.”

PMRA’s new rule applies only to those corn and soybean growers using a lubricant to help with seed flow through their planters. Growers who haven’t used lubricants in the past aren’t required to start using the Fluency Agent.

The Fluency Agent, made of a polyethylene wax substrate, is to be applied at rates of no more than 1/8 of a cup per 80,000-seed unit of corn or 140,000-seed unit of soybeans.

Grain Farmers of Ontario, the body for Ontario corn, soybean and wheat growers, noted on its website that only the recommended amount should be used or “more contaminated dust may be emitted from the exhaust manifolds” of planters.

The Fluency Agent is billed as reducing the amount of active insecticide ingredient released in treated seed dust during planting by 65 per cent, “therefore reducing the risk of exposure to non-target insects, including bees,” Bayer CropScience said on its website.

The new product was rated as “equal to or better than other seed flow lubricants,” the company said.

Growers who require graphite to lubricate a planting mechanism, such as a finger planter, may continue using graphite, GFO said.

“Required by law”

PMRA’s new Pollinator Protection and Responsible use of Treated Seed guidelines include a list of label changes and recommendations for the use of neonicotinoids for spray application and seed treatment, to reduce risk to bees and other pollinators.

The products to which the amended labels apply include Bayer CropScience’s clothianidin seed treatment Poncho; Valent Canada’s clothianidin treatment NipsIt Inside; Syngenta Canada’s thiamethoxam-based Cruiser seed treatments; Bayer’s imidacloprid-based Gaucho insecticides; and Mana Canada’s imidacloprid product Sombrero 600.

GFO “is committed to adjust planting practices to protect pollinators and we are pleased to see Health Canada’s label changes in place for the 2014 planting season,” CFO CEO Barry Senft, said in a release Thursday.

“Protecting crops from insect damage is essential for farmers and PMRA’s new guidelines, along with Grain Farmers of Ontario’s initiatives, promote sustainable agriculture practices and the protection of pollinators.”

To help “facilitate” the new guidelines, all corn and soybean seed deliveries will be accompanied by a new label — and by a supply of the new Fluency Agent, GFO said.

“Farmers are required by law to adhere to the label instructions that include safer handling procedures,” GFO noted. — Network

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