Physicochemical Improvement of Pellets
Seed merchants have used pelleting techniques for decades. Developments in seed pelleting has encouraged further seed technologies. Farmers found it easier to sow their crops because of the added weight, which led to the development of fast-moving machinery to plant seed evenly and accurately.
The popularity of pelleted seeds continues to grow and when pellets are combined with Legume Technology inoculants, the benefits experienced by the farmer are immense.
Agricultural research into the preparation of pellets, along with the substances that are used to coat the seed, has led to numerous improvements over the years. Studies have found that some substances, such as clay and diatomaceous earth, slow down the germination process because the seeds are too slow to absorb sufficient oxygen. More recent research has shown silica to be much more effective.
It is vital to ensure that the coating material does not contain toxic materials that could destroy the seed and that instead it is able to maximise the potential for each plant. In addition to the many benefits of adding an inoculant, it is possible to design pellets to contain extra nutrients, alter soil pH, or supply antifungals..
The pelleting process coats small or irregularly shaped seeds with an inert material to make them round and uniform.
The process usually begins with inoculation of the seeds, which are then watered to almost the point of germination before they’re dried in a process called priming. Once the seed is dry, they’re coated in an inert substance, which is moulded around the seed using a binder. The seed, or pellet, is then sprayed with a protective layer.
There are numerous benefits of using pelleted seed:
- Pellets are bigger, rounder and smoother than the seeds themselves, and are ideal for mechanical seeders.
- Increased oxygen availability.
- More accurate spacing of seed during planting, reducing the need for thinning later on.
- Germination can be 50% faster with pelleted seed, reducing the risks attributed to soil crusting, weeds and soilborne diseases.
- Ideal carrier of some crop protection treatments.
- The occurrence of small or deformed roots is much less common from pelleted seeds.
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