15 March 2002

Dusty treatments deserve respect

IF you plan to use dust seed treatments make sure you and your staff are aware of the health and safety issues, says Paul Dover, independent seed quality consultant and secretary of the BPC Crop Protection Group.

And ask yourself could better planning have allowed you to use a liquid seed treatment?

"There is no problem with liquid seed treatments where they can be applied in the autumn. If suppliers have the facilities to treat seed pre-Christmas, ideally at harvest time, then that is the preferred approach."

But a trend to just-in-time delivery of seed and recent emergence problems blamed on liquid treatments have caused many to move back to dust treatments.

These are based on the same fungicides and work well if applied effectively, but they can raise serious operator health and safety questions, especially if applied by hand.

"The first thing to point out if you are using dusts is that there are mechanical applicators available." Time may be too short to get one fitted for this seasons plantings, but growers should at least see if one can be fitted to their planter in time for next year, says Mr Dover.

For those faced with no option but to dust seed by hand this spring, position planters so operators are standing upwind when loading the hopper with fungicide treatment and make sure there is an even distribution of treatment throughout the hopper or box.

Gloves and a suitable dust mask should be worn and operators briefed to make sure they read and follow the label precautions advised. "Especially as they may be staff who do not regularly handle pesticides."

However, as with any Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) issue, the best solution is to avoid it all together. "Where there is an established need for a rhizoctonia seed treatment, primarily because of seed-borne infection, a liquid treatment applied pre-Christmas is the right approach." &#42

&#8226 Only dust if you must.

&#8226 Fit mechanical applicator.

&#8226 Stand upwind if have to hand-apply.

&#8226 Autumn applied liquid safer solution.

Check planter set-up before blaming seed treatments for poor emergence, says seed quality consultant Paul Dover (inset).