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Save our seed treatments

It’s time for a balanced argument

Effective stewardship is crucial to demonstrating our professional and responsible use of seed treatments. Simply, we must all handle treated seed carefully and according to recommended guidelines – and be seen to be doing so. And by ‘all’, we mean everyone, from manufacturers like Bayer, to the seed trade, treaters and growers.

What the law says

Directive 2010/21/EU Part A restriction. For the protection of non-target organisms, in particular honey bees and birds, for use as a seed treatment:

  • The seed coating shall only be performed in professional seed treatment facilities. Those facilities must apply the best available techniques in order to ensure that the release of dust during application to the seed, storage and transport can be minimised.
  • Adequate seed drilling equipment shall be used to ensure a high degree of incorporation in soil, minimisation of spillage minimisation of dust emission.

The main risks

Seed treatments are so simple to use, it is easy to forget that they are pesticides and that sowing seeds needs the same care as spraying pesticides. Cereals seeds pose a special risk because they are a potential food source for many birds and small mammals. On farm, the main risks come from:

  • Accidental seed spills
  • Dust abraded from seed
  • Seed not covered by soil during sowing

Stewardship essentials

Avoid dust

  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment when handling seed – read the seed bag label.
  • Ensure seed is treated with Bayer-approved application equipment. This ensures that seed treatments are applied accurately with uniform loading on each seed and allows improved quality assurance checks and record-keeping. It can also ensure appropriate stickers are used to keep the treatment on the seed.
  • Handle bags with care to avoid abrasion of the treatment from the seed.
  • When emptying bulk seed bags, take care to minimise the distance between bag and drill to minimise seed abrasion.
  • Do not tip dust into drill – there should be minimal dust if treatments have been applied correctly.
  • Do not drill too fast for the prevailing conditions.

Avoid spills

  • Any size of spill is important – deal with it immediately.
  • Ensure drilling equipment is properly maintained and will not allow seed to leak.
  • Take time and care when loading seed hopper.
  • Always fill the drill where any spills can be caught or buried safely (never fill over grass or other vegetation where spills cannot easily be cleared).
  • Ensure no seed is released when seed and equipment is in transit.
  • Do not allow seed to be spilt during calibration or operating checks.
  • Always carry a spill kit, which should comprise:
    • Spade to cover or retrieve spilt seed
    • Spare bag including label to save seed recovered
    • Canvas sheet for use when calibrating the drill

Cover all seeds

  • Ensure all seed is covered and not exposed for birds and wildlife to eat.
  • Treated seed must always be sown using a drill or techniques that place the seed in the soil and ensure that it is covered.
  • Do not broadcast.
  • Treated seed should be drilled at 4 cm (1.5”) depth.
  • Set up and check equipment on an area yet to be sown.
  • Check seedbed is of appropriate quality for drilling technique being used.
  • Ensure drill is moving forward before lowering coulters into ground.
  • Take care when lifting drill in and out of work – ideally shut off seed mechanism a metre before row ends.
  • Ensure headlands are drilled last, to incorporate any spilt seed into the soil.

Care after drilling

  • Remove all seed from drill, ensuring seed and dust is collected into labelled bags for safe disposal. Never burn treated seed.
  • Collect all empty sacks before leaving field.
  • Never re-use empty bags that have contained treated seed for any purpose other than storing original treated seed.
  • Store left-over seed in original bags with labels in a secure store for re-use or safe disposal.
  • Ensure dry, safe storage of seed that prevents access by pets, livestock, birds and small mammals.
  • Wash hands immediately after use and before eating and drinking.
  • Make record of operations, settings and whether any problems encountered.

Find your local technical manager

If you have a question about our products on your crops, please contact your nearest technical manager

Get in touch

Click on the image or link to view and download the PDF


Stewardship Guide


Drilling guides:


Winter cereals


Spring cereals

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More on stewardship


Go to this article on treated seed stewardship at the Farmers Weekly Academy.

Read a best practice guide on treated seed from the Voluntary Initiative.


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