# Seed Treatment #Follow
“Unity of Knowledge and Action” – Interview with Jelle Vriend from Ad Terram
Oct. 14, 2021
Global Sales Manager at Ad Terram
This is the second time the lead from Ad Terram team has spoken to AgroPages (Read the last interview article). Ad Terram is a Dutch company which develops and produces agricultural treatments and leads the way towards a microplastic free industry without compromising in price and quality. Ad Terram is a firm believer in organic solutions and sustainable development concept. In this interview, Jelle Vriend, Global Sales Manager at Ad Terram, explains deeply the rationale and practical significance of developing microplastic-free seed treatment products, and the advantages they already have.
Ad Terram recently launched a new brand identity, what is the background of this change?
Due to our international presence, we wanted to increase our distinguishability from other companies within our industry. Also, the usability of our old logo became an issue on diverse (social) media platforms. Over the years our product portfolio became more diverse and therefore we needed to adapt our Brand Identity to fit the numerous markets we face today.
Ad Terram is the pioneer in developing microplastic-free seed treatment products. Why have you focused on this area from the start, even before microplastics became an issue?
Since the early 70’s Microplastics have been acknowledged as an environmental problem. This problem received more attention and awareness from the public due to the Plastic Soup, plastic waste, and non-recyclable products.
We started to design products that would carry benefits for the conventional industries. We intended to stay as far away as possible from the environmentally unfriendly components. The use of polymers in the industry and beyond was known to give problems in the fields e.g. slower germination of seeds treated with polymers and high levels of residues of those polymers in the soil and on the leaves of treated plants.
Over the past 5 years, many scientific publications have been published supporting the latent known issues with (bio-based) polymers in (seed) treatments. When we started, we already saw in our laboratories and the field, a big difference between naturally treated seeds and conventionally treated seeds using polymers or synthetically designed bio-based polymers. The naturally treated seeds germinated quicker, showed fewer signs of stress, and had better vigour. In the picture below you can see clearly that the in this case corn seeds, suffered from stress significantly more than the seeds treated with our organic seed coating Sapphire Seed Coat PreMix. The purple/red roots are Anthocyanins, a sign of stress during growth.
Due to the fact that these problems all have the same origin namely; the biodegradability of the used (bio-based) polymers, in combination with our mission to create high-end products on a purely organic basis, the choice was easily made.
Why are biodegradable or biobased polymers not able to replace microplastics in seed treatments?
In principle biodegradable or bio-based polymers are able to replace microplastics in seed treatments however, the biodegradability has to be within 48 months until carbon hydroxide level. The number of biobased polymers used in the industry which are complying with this 48 months rule is very scarce. A polymer sold as a biodegradable biobased polymer which after 150 years still is not biodegraded is of no use to solve the problems we face today.
An unexpected unwanted side-effect of polymers used to apply insecticides to seeds and/or plants appears to occur after application. This is caused by the poor level of biodegradability that peaks and becomes air-borne insecticides due to abbreviation (by wind) of particles containing insecticides that did not enter the plant and/or seeds. These particles are very dangerous because bees and other helpful insects are killed without us knowing where it came from.
Normally insecticides don’t last more than 24 months but one of the characteristics of microplastics (polymers) is that they encapsulate the insecticide. The insecticide is later released in the open field and freed by abbreviation due to wind and/or rain. Because this is a very slow process the accumulation of dangerous insecticides and or chemicals in the soils on which we grow our food can become an issue.
Could you please update us on the regulatory changes regarding microplastics in Europe? When will the restriction on seed treatment come into force?
Microplastics have become a big issue in the world due to the environmental and health issues it seems to create. In the past 5 years, it became more evident that there will be restrictions on the use of microplastics in all products and also in agricultural products. ECHA (European Chemical Agency) has provided a timeline for the implementation regarding the regulatory changes. However, due to COVID-19, the implementation of the regulations of ECHA is postponed till further notice. The expectation is that it will be implemented before 2022.
See attachment (Microplastic restriction timeline ECHA)
We noticed that some other companies are also paying attention to microplastic-free seed treatment solutions. In your opinion, what are Ad Terram’s advantages compared to other companies with similar business strategies?
We are very happy that other companies are trying to design microplastic-free seed treatment products. For us, this is only acknowledging the issues at hand. A big advantage for us is that our seed treatment products carry very specific characteristics which are very helpful for the people who are using them.
For instance, after application, our seed coat liquids do not need drying because of their rheopectic behavior. This means that after processing the seeds can be packed immediately. This characteristic of our seed coat liquids saves a lot of energy, time, and in the end money for the customer.
Another advantage is the ultra-short processing time for pelleting and encrusting.
Looking at the encrustment of seeds, the processing time is only 90 – 120 seconds and can be used without drying. If the company would like to dry the seed, then add 60 seconds to the processing time. These 60 seconds are sufficient to reach the original moisture level you started with.
For pelleting (up to 800%) the batch processing time is +/- 30 minutes and the drying time approximately 20 minutes without using heated air which saves a lot of energy. We use conditioned air at room temperature to create a pellet with extremely low dust, good friability, and homogenous hardness of the pellets.
Besides the above-mentioned advantages, all our products can also be used crop independently.
Can you share any field test results with us to demonstrate the superiority of your seed treatment products?
Seeing is believing we always say at Ad Terram. Therefore most of our customers perform their own trails on the field. Some examples of what we have seen in the fields of our customers:
Biostimulants are another specialty business of Ad Terram. Could you please tell us more about your Optimum Biostimulants product line?
Our Biostimulants product line is unique in its approach to stimulate and support seed and plant growth. The principle of our Biostimulants lies in the way we are supporting natural occurring systematic flows in plant cells. By designing combinations of naturally occurring plant and seed components we have established a crop-independent Biostimulant. This increases the uptake of micro-nutrients. This allows the flow of fluids in the plant cells which enable the plant to grow faster, healthier and create a higher turgor in the plant. Therefore the plant becomes more resilient to abiotic stress factors such as; wind, rain, cold, heat, etc.
Also because of treatment with Optimum Biostimulants the vacuoles in the cells of the plant increase, this creates a higher capability in the plant to handle toxins better and faster without interfering negatively with the plant growth energy.
The uptake of nutrition, water, etc. by the plants treated with Optimum is much higher, and therefore the plant is stronger and much more resilient during the growing season.
Because of this, our Optimum Biostimulants fit very well in programs to reduce the use of treatments that are either restricted by the government or are very expensive to execute. In The Netherlands, there are programs (which are called Resilient farming) the use of Optimum is widely applied to achieve these goals.
Does your company have plans to introduce new products in the market recently?
Ad Terram, based on years of research, is going to introduce several new products in the coming seasons.
The most revolutionary development is our system for Rhizobia strain application in the form of a granulate. These granulates carry the bacteria and can be stored for more than 1 year without losing the potency of the strains. We are also able to apply Rhizobia strains directly to the seeds and they have the same storability as the seed lot itself. Because we add specific flavonoids which are specifically chosen to support the initial growth and mobility of the bacteria, the effects of our treatments are very fast and visible in the fields.
Also this autumn, we are introducing microplastic free micro-element gluconates. Such as; Zinc, Manganese, Iron, etc. These products are available as a foliar treatment but also as a granulate which can be sown or spread out on the field. We use gluconates instead of the regularly used solvents because plants recognize and digest micro-elements much easier in this form.
Last but not least, we will introduce in the nearby future high-end Mycorrhiza as well as microplastic free binders and carriers for third-party applications in and outside our industry.
What are your expectations for the future of Ad Terram?
We expect to grow not only within the Agro-industry but also as a technology partner outside our industry to help to create new products which are microplastic free and safe for the environment.
All our products are and will be designed in such a way that the industry will be ready for the future, which demands sustainable products of top-notch quality so that food safety can be secured without contaminating the environment. For this reason, all products produced by us are microplastic free and 100% organic. Not because we are obliged to do so due to new regulations and laws. But because it’s better for the health of your precious products; the seeds, the crops that grow from the seeds, and for the condition of the environment in which plants and seeds grow. The place where we all live on;
Microplastic Free, Naturally!
This article was initially published in AgroPages' '2021 Seed Treatment Special' magazine.
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