Guelph, Ontario, Canada
• Focus is on impact on planter performance
Syngenta Canada is undertaking field-level research this spring to study the compatibility of dust deflectors with planting equipment used by Ontario growers. Deflectors have been found to significantly reduce off-field drift of dust released during planting of insecticide-treated seed.
The findings of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), who investigated reported incidents of bee deaths in 2012 and 2013, reaffirms the focus on acute incidents involving planting practices associated with corn, and to a lesser extent, soybean production, and the dust generated during the planting of treated seed.1
“A number of measures to minimize dust during planting have or are being put in place, but deflectors have only more recently come into the conversation here in Canada as a potential dust mitigation tool,” says Dr. Paul Hoekstra, Regulatory and Science Stewardship Manager with Syngenta Canada.
Hoekstra says the project will help to build local knowledge regarding the design, construction and on-farm use of this type of mitigation technology, noting that the focus of this particular project will be to examine whether or not the use of deflectors has an impact on planter performance. He sees this project as a complement to the work of equipment manufacturers who are looking at changes to future equipment design to reduce dust drift.
Working with Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO), Syngenta identified a pool of prospective grower participants from southern Ontario, where the majority of reported incidents in 2012 and 2013 were located. Twenty-plus participants have been confirmed for the project.
Each participating grower will install a deflector unit on their pneumatic planter. Growers will plant a specified number of acres with the deflector attached to their pneumatic planters, together with the new Fluency Agent seed lubricant mandated by the PMRA, after which the deflector will be removed and performance will be monitored over an additional area equal to the same number of acres planted with the deflector in place.
“Protecting pollinators and providing our farmer members with tools to reduce the risk of dust exposure is a priority for GFO. This project will provide important information as we continue to build the tool-box for farmers to reduce dust exposure,” says Henry VanAnkum, Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario. “Deflectors have been shown to work in other countries to reduce the risk of dust exposure during planting of treated seeds and this project will provide us with firsthand accounts from our farmer members on their experience with deflectors.”
Dr. Hoekstra concludes by noting that there is strong research and practice from other parts of the world to suggest that deflectors can make a significant difference in reducing dust drift.
The project will be funded through the company’s Operation Pollinator program, which provides support for research and other initiatives that contribute to enhanced biodiversity and habitat in support of healthy pollinator populations. Hoekstra expects data from the project to be compiled by late summer or early fall.
1 PMRA. 2013. Notice of Intent. Action to Protect Bees from Exposure to Neonicotinoid Pesticides. NOI2013-01. September 13, 2013