1986 - Volume #10, Issue #5, Page #36[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Introducing The Seed Moisturizer
"It's the first and only one of its kind in the world," says Al Graves, co-inventor of the patented machine which, after five years of testing, is being marketed by Advanced Growth System's field office in Edmonton, Alb. The company, headquartered in Vancouver, B.C., is headed by J. H. Prefontaine, who teamed up with Graves to develop the Seed Moisturizer.
It uses vacuum to pull air out of seeds, and pressure to inject water into the heart of the kernel. Seed is moisturized in 100 bu. batches at the rate of 200 bu. per hr. The going rate is $2.00 per bushel for custom moisturizing corn, cereals and other coarse grains, and 25 cents per lb. of alfalfa, clover and other small seeded crops.
"We recommend that seed be planted no sooner than 5 or 6 hours after treatment, and no later than 48 hours. If it rains and you can't get into the field to get treated seed planted within 48 hours, it can be dried down for safe keeping, then retreated," explains Dr. Brian Carpenter, marketing manager whose degrees are in agriculture and veterinary medicine.
"Seed swells up about 50% in volume after treatment. For example, if you bring in 10 bags of seed corn to be treated, you'll have a 15-bag load going home," according to Dr. Carpenter. "There's no problem in running swelled seed through a conventional planter or drill, except that you have to adjust the metering mechanism to compensate for the larger kernel size to end up with the desired plant population. Moisturized kernels come out of the machine soft, but not so soft that they get mushy and lose their integrity. With some crops, such as alfalfa, you'll want to reduce the normal seeding rate to allow for the fact that, with adequate soil moisture, a much higher percentage of moisturized seeds ù including many hard kernels ù will germinate and grow," Dr. Carpenter points out. "Moisturizing injects water into the seed to trigger faster germination and root emergence, but not enough water to sustain plant growth. If planted in powder dry soil, moisturized seed will lay there until moisture comes. When it does, it'll use it faster and much more efficiently than untreated seed since it has already begun to germinate."
Dr. Carpenter hopes to have upwards of 50 machines in the field in the U.S. and Canada next spring. "In locating them, we'll give top priorityto any potential dealer who can line up about 10,000 acres of wheat, corn, alfalfa, canola and other crops for custom moisturizing prior to planting," he told FARM SHOW.
Interested farmers and researchers from all corners of the world, including Russia, have bombarded Advance Growth Systems with inquiries since the company first publically introduced its new seed-moisturizing machine at the 1986 Western Canada Farm Show in Regina, Sask. "Three experimental machines were in the field last year. This year, we're field-testing 13 machines ù 10 in Alberta, 2 in Saskatchewan and 1 in British Columbia," says Dr. Carpenter. "We expect to have machines working in Montana and Washington in the next few weeks.
"In addition to the farm market, we're getting a lot of interest from flour millers, brewers and other industries where the manufacturing process requires pre-soaking of seed kernels. We're also exploring the new machine's possible application to other areas of agriculture, including feeds for livestock," explains Dr. Carpenter.
Initially, however, the company is focusing on the farm market where it feels the new machine has its biggest and best potential. "Our plan is to put machines in the field under a licensing agreement, rather than selling them outright. We want them in the hands of trained operators who will custom-treat seed for area farmer-customers," says Dr. Carpenter.
How It Works
There's nothing new about the concept of soaking seeds in water to speed germination. For more than 100 years, pre-soaking has "worked great" in laboratories but, until now, has remained slow, cumbersome and impractic
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