Company Explores Plant Health Impact of Seed Treatment

Syngenta shows science behind the 'vigor trigger' seen when using its thiomethoxam insecticide.

In a competitive market for crop protection products, companies work hard to make sure they offer farmers the best bang for the buck. The rapidly growing seed treatment market may get more attention thanks to information from Syngenta. Recently, the company announced it was seeing increased plant vigor when the seed treatment Cruiser - or thiomethoxam - was used. During a Webinar conducted for media this week, the company further explained the mechanism involved.

Mark Jirak, seed care crop manager for Syngenta, explained that in the 10 years since the product came to market it was apparent there was some kind of vigor effect at work from the product. "We were seeing faster maturing crops even with no visible insect pressure," he says. "We wanted to look into the science of that mechanism."

The more healthy, more lush soybeans on the right were treated with thiomethoxam and show the signs of boosted vigor. The plot was apparently without insect pressure.

Jirak notes that thiomethoxam, know under the Cruiser brand in the United States, remains a leading seed treatment for use against chewing and sucking insects that impact a wide range of crops from soybeans to wheat, potatoes to corn. "In each of the labeled crops we are seeing this vigor effect," he adds.

Looking at the mechanism

It's one thing to talk about a claim, and quite another to test that claim in the laboratory. That's the challenge Michael Schade, global technical manager, seed treatment insecticides, accepted in trying to find the mechanism for the vigor response. Working with a group of institutions from around the world, Syngenta did lab tests to verify the response.

"In the field there is always insect pressure, even if it's not visible," Schade says. "We needed to create laboratory conditions to test this 'vigor trigger' and see what was going on."

Creating a clean growth chamber, researchers at Syngenta and global partners, saw more signs of the 'vigor trigger.'

In the lab, where plants grew in conditions with no insect pressure, there was still a vigor response. It appears when thiomethoxam is present in the plant the chemical creates a response among key defensive proteins in the plant. Those proteins push the plant to create a stronger stem, deeper roots - in essence it's a push to the plant's vigor.

Bottom line: Syngenta says this vigor response can also boost yields.

Schade also says this work is in its early stages. He sees the potential for this vigor effect to impact crop quality and other issues as more work is done.

You'll be hearing more about this as the 2007 growing season approaches. For more information you can visit

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