Product reduces potentially toxic corn dust

Canadian corn growers will have access next spring to a new product from Bayer CropScience that reduces dust emissions by 90 per cent.

Dust from corn and soybean seed coated with neonicotinoid insecticides has been blamed for widespread bee deaths in Ontario and Quebec.

“There will be no limitation on the availability of the product as far as who can use it on what seed,” said Greig Zamecnik, Bayer CropScience’s director of horticulture and row crop business. “It’s a stewardship initiative.”

The new product will be priced competitively with existing lubricants.

Two weeks ago, the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency announced proposed changes for using this class of insecticides, stating “that current agricultural practices related to the use of neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed are not sustainable”

It’s common for corn growers to add talc, graphite or both to the seed bins on their corn planters to aid seed flow and increase planting accuracy, Zamecnik said.

Dust comes from the planter when the vacuum used to place the seed is released. Bayer’s new fluency agent is made of a polyethylene wax substrate. It reduces dust because less of it is required, it adheres well to the seed, and it’s not as abrasive, he said.

“And more importantly there’s a very significant reduction in the amount of insecticide in the dust, which is really the issue,” Zamecnik said.

Bayer tested the new product on 40,000 acres throughout North America this spring, including 25,000 acres in Ontario and Quebec. Farmers said it worked just as well as their traditional lubricants, he said.

Bayer said in a release it has worked to improve honeybee health for more than 25 years. Its Bee Care Program includes initiatives designed to further bee health research, engagement and discussion.

Bee Care Program initiatives include:

  •  The North American Bee Care Center, which broke ground in May at the North American Bayer CropScience Headquarters in Research Triangle Park, N.C., is a state-of-the-art facility to support worldwide bee health initiatives.
  •  The Protect the Western Bumble Bee initiative, part of the Bring Back the Wild program, is a partnership with Earth Rangers to educate kids on the importance of bees and to help protect their habitat.
  •  Bee Ambassador Program is a field staff training campaign dedicated to bettering honeybee management and health.

Meanwhile, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency is “expediting” its previously announced re-evaluation of neonicotinoids, in co-operation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and proposes to implement label changes similar to EPA’s. It’s calling for new pesticide labels that “prohibit use of some neonicotinoid pesticide products where bees are present.” The planned U.S. labels are to have a bee “advisory box and icon” with information on routes of exposure and drift precautions.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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