Bayer releases product to reduce seed dust harmful to bees

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



SAN ANTONIO, Texas, Feb. 25, 2014-- Bayer CropSciences designed a new seed lubricant, which it made available for growers in the United States today, for corn and soybean seeds that helps reduce the release of seed dust and may consequently improve bee health.

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The new seed lubricant, Fluency Agent, is designed to replace standard talc and graphite seed lubricants. Farmers use talc and graphite lubricants on seeds to encourage consistent planting space and smooth movement through machinery.  The Fluency Agent is meant to be used on seeds coated with a class of insecticides known as neonicitinoids.

The release of “fugitive dust” from seeds during planting is one way bees may be exposed to pesticides, according to the Corn Dust Research Consortium, an initiative formed to fund research with the goal of reducing honey bee exposure to corn dust during planting.

While seed companies apply neonicitinoid treatments on their products, the Fluency Agent is used at the discretion of the grower, explained Bayer's seed growth equipment and coatings manager Kerry Grossweiler. He said the Fluency Agent is priced competitively with traditional talc and graphite lubricants.

According to a study conducted by the Corn Dust Research Consortium, honey bees collected pollen largely from trees and woody plants during the time of corn planting. The consortium also found that across all three sites used in the study, the highest residue levels occurred during the approximately two-week planting period.

Bayer's lab tests show their new product helps reduce the amount of total dust released in treated seeds by 90 percent versus talc and 60 percent versus graphite. This reduces the potential risk of exposure to pollinators, if they come in direct contact with the dust during the planting process, the company noted.

In spring 2013, Bayer conducted field trials of the product on more than 40,000 acres in the United States and Canada. The company says majority of growers said Fluency Agent was equal to or better than traditional seed lubricants. This spring Bayer plans on conducting demonstration plots with growers on 250,000 corn acres.

In late January, the Canadian government, through Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), introduced new guidelines to require only the use of Bayer's Fluency Agent product as a seed flow lubricant on any seeds treated with a neonicitinoid.

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