Summary of the 2017 SMaRT seed treatment trials

On-farm soybean seed treatment trials produced mixed results in 2017. Because of this, we are looking for 20 cooperators that want to determine the actual yield and income benefits of the seed treatments they plan to use in 2018.

At the 2017 SMaRT (Soybean Management and Research Technology) meetings, producers told us they wanted the SMaRT program to evaluate seed treatments in the 2017 on-farm research trials. Specifically, producers wanted to determine the yield and income benefits produced by complete seed treatments (multiple fungicides plus and an insecticide) compared to those of untreated or naked seed. To answer this question, trial cooperators asked their local seed suppliers to provide them with treated and untreated seed from the same variety and seed lot. At planting, the cooperators planted eight to 12 alternating field-length strips of the treated and untreated seed.

The complete seed treatments increased soybean yields at two of the eight locations. Seed treatment increased yield by 3.7 bushels per acre in a low-yielding site and by 2.8 bushels per acre in a higher yielding environment (Fig. 1). Both sites were in Michigan’s Cass County and in both cases, the seed treatments included a nematicide, increasing the seed treatment cost to $25 per acre.

When all eight locations were combined, the complete seed treatments increased soybean yield by 1.4 bushels per acre. This is just under the breakeven cost for a basic fungicide plus insecticide seed treatment.

Yield difference chart

Figure 1. Yield difference produced by using complete seed treatments in 2017.

The seed treatments also increased final plant stands by 21,000 to 24,000 plants per acre at all three Cass County locations and by nearly 11,000 plants per acre when all the locations were combined.

The results from the eight trials conducted in 2017 don’t build a compelling case for either using or not using complete seed treatments. Because of this, we want to conduct this project again in 2018 and would like to have at least 20 locations. Interested cooperators are encouraged to select the complete seed treatment they want to evaluate on their farm and begin working with their seed dealers. The trial can be planted by splitting the planter or using precision farming technologies such as RTK and autosteer.

Please contact me at 269-673-0370 ext. 2562 or if you would like conduct a complete seed treatment trial on your farm in 2018.

This article was produced by the SMaRT project (Soybean Management and Research Technology). The SMaRT project was developed to help Michigan producers increase soybean yields and farm profitability. SMaRT is a partnership between Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Soybean Checkoff program.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2018 issue of the Michigan Soybean News.

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