Color is an overlooked part of seed treatment formulation
There is far more than meets the eye when considering the color of seed. Color solutions are often the last factor seed companies think about, with their full attention on active ingredients. But beyond a smooth violet or rich red, color can be an indicator of quality—good and bad.
An improperly built colorant can be the portion of a seed treatment formula that renders the entire coating incompatible, leaving seed vulnerable to pests and disease. “Currently, color solutions are often the final factor of consideration, with total focus on active ingredients,” said Aakash Shah, CEO, Aakash Chemicals, at the Exceed the Seed Symposium.
Color is often the last consideration for seed companies but the first thing a farmer notices. “There is quality under the color,” said Aakash Shah, CEO, Aakash Chemicals, at the Exceed the Seed Symposium.
“However, color is important because it causes some of the current compatibility problems in the seed industry, such as agglomeration,” he said.
Aakash Chemicals supplies organic pigments, dyes, additives, resins and waxes for color purposes in the consumer packaging, automotive and agricultural industries. The company, which has manufacturing facilities in Savannah, Ga., is one of the only fully vertically integrated color manufacturers in the U.S.
Colorant represents the measures taken to protect a seed’s integrity. Yet, if the colorant is composed of inferior products that integrity is in jeopardy. A poorly built colorant can serve as a weak link and ruin the entire seed coating. “If seed doesn’t look right with the proper shade or tone, color can be the marker indicating poor quality,” said Shaun Mueller, technical director, Coatings, Aakash Chemicals. “We don’t look at color as a necessary evil, but rather as a functioning part of a seed formulation. Any formula is the sum of its parts, and color adds a more productive sum.”
Seed colors are applied as part of a complete system: color, active ingredients and polymers. As part of a larger brew, the color treatment goes on seed in a one-time application. Sub-standard colorant products can cause inconsistencies from seed to seed and rob a coating of a smooth finish, resulting in a spotty surface with pigment agglomerations.
“We’re not naïve enough to think color is more important than active ingredients on seed, but it is an important function of seed health indication. Our colorants, Akasprout, play a better role in protecting seed and the active ingredients,” Mueller detailed.
Seed colors must be in the spectrum approved by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). There is a standard color palette in the seed treatment industry, which Mueller used to design Aakash’s system.
In building Aakash’s colorant system, Mueller worked backward in the development process by looking at polymers used in the market and evaluating those that carried compatibility into overall seed treatment.
Companies that make colorants for the seed treatment industry have many approved ingredients on the CFR list, but an approved ingredient isn’t necessarily compatible or optimal.
Producers should recognize color relates to quality seed, Mueller said. “If a farmer grabs a handful of soybean and feels a smooth and even finish, it’s a strong indicator that his seed will be protected throughout the growing process,” he explained.
Without question, as color is often the last consideration for seed companies, it remains the first thing a customer farmer notices, Shah added.
“At the end of the day, companies are saying to farmers, ‘This is what our seed looks like.’ Well, if it is nice, bright and clean, as opposed to speckled and dirty, the seed companies are going to have a better first interaction as farmers are introduced to their seed. There is quality under the color,” Shah said.