From lab to land: A look inside Syngenta's Seedcare Institute

It’s not often a company opens the doors to its multi-million dollar seed research centre, so when you get the chance for a tour, you take it.

Last month, Syngenta held its media summit which wrapped up by taking both Canadian and American agricultural journalists on a trip to Stanton, Minnesota, to check out their Seedcare Institute.

Ravi Ramachandran, head of the North American Seedcare Institute, tells RealAgriculture it all comes down to getting the treatment on seed no matter where the producer farms or what equipment they use.

“(At the centre) we bring the products and the application technology together,” he says. Not only does the facility involve extensive research labs, it also is home to both climate-controlled application areas and a large scale commercial drill — able to seed at various rates and able to mimic different machinery. (Story continues below)

By having the simulator in house, Ramachandran adds it gives researchers a leg up if a farmer were to come back with an application problem. By having the drill, they would be able to pinpoint exactly what is missing from the formula that resulted in the treatment not sticking to the seed.

According to Ramachandran, seed treatment is evolving at an accelerated rate, and with technology also growing, he believes we’ll see much more digitizing of seed treatment applications.

“Twenty years ago somebody would just apply treatment by shaking a jug, putting it through an auger and then the seed would be treated — as long as your seed is red at the other end, then it was good enough. That was ok for when you had active ingredients that were being applied at a couple hundred grams per hundred kilos,” Ramachandran says.

“Modern treatments, like (Syngenta’s) Vibrance and so on, well they’re like one or two grams of active ingredients per hundred kilos of a hundred pounds of seed. Hence, you need to have very sophisticated, precise equipment and part of that is about automation.”

He added as the world becomes more and more automated, it will give the producer more opportunity to be involved with their seed treatment plans. This would include having them be involved in making an individualized recipe pertaining to their specific crop needs.

Product, application, and service are the three pillars Ramachandran believes makes Syngenta stand out as they want strive to form that relationship, from lab to land.

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