Dries: Firstly, it's important to know what seed coatings are used for. For our customers, it could be for a variety of reasons. They could want a specific coating colouring, or perhaps they'd like a regular seed shape. This is a common problem as machinery used in farming requires a regular format and size to be more effective in the sowing process. A more defined shape makes it easier to plant.
Another example could be applying coatings to increase weight. This is sometimes done as a very simple increase in the weight of the seed can help sell it at a higher cost because they are sold per kilogram or per gram. Finally, an increasingly common reason for seed coating is the application of different types of micronutrients, fungicides and biopesticides. All are used to protect the seed and to make sure that it will germinate.
Based on all these options, there can be different challenges in creating a seed coating. If we start from the very beginning where we have just the normal binder and you create a formulation, getting the specifics right can be the first challenge. At IMCD, we are able to support our customers with these requirements.
Dries: We are constantly looking at finding sustainable solutions. For example, we have binders that are more biobased, and we have anti-foam wetting agents. With a new upcoming regulation, we are also focusing on offering microplastic-free coating solutions.
This new regulation, which is expected in the near future, provides a requirement of the amount of microplastics that can be used in the coating. Hence, it’s vital for every business to find a suitable option.
Currently, the answer to this is to find biobased or biodegradable solutions. Our IMCD Agrochemicals division has been one step ahead, collaborating with AMULIX (Covestro) since last year. Amulix have tested their ready-to-use coating on multiple seeds - from forage crops to different types of vegetable seeds and many more. There has also been research on the different type of colours available; everything to ensure the coating works and is effective. As this regulation forms a new challenge in the market, every farmer, and every customer needs to switch to a new type of seed coating, which is where IMCD can help.
Alongside this collaboration, we are also looking at ready-to-use and formulation-specific alternatives to make sure we continue to stay ahead of the curve.
Caroline: Leading manufacturers that IMCD partner with have recognised that there is a need to rapidly develop seed treatment binders that are not only water soluble, but also fully biodegradable. Furthermore, their priority is to use raw materials that are naturally derived and biobased. The goal is to allow formulators to create more natural and sustainable seed treatment products without compromising performance in the field. There is also a focus on developing biodegradable formulation inerts for use in crop protection products such as surfactants, rheology modifiers and solvents. High quality products already on the market today are being used to create the next generation of leading and sustainable agrochemical formulations.