Seed treatment can improve seed germination, seedling emergence, plant vigour, stand establishment and total yield, helping to ensure the crop or pasture is on its way to reaching its full genetic potential.

The first four to six weeks after sowing is a critical period in the life of a new plant, as seedlings emerge and develop their physical make up. Sowing treated seed provides protection during the germination and establishment stages when emerging seedlings are most vulnerable to attack from invasive insect pests and disease pathogens.

Seed treatment has a greatly reduced impact on the environment, typically applying less than 1% of the active-ingredient per hectare in comparison to ‘broad-acre’ chemical applications, resulting in a positive effect for humans, livestock, birdlife and the soil environment.

Seed treatment is strongly endorsed by industry groups including The Forage Brassica Development Group and DairyNZ through the Pasture Renewal Leadership Group.


Reduces risk and helps safeguard investment in forage seed. The cost of failed pasture establishment can be in excess of $2,000/ha with lost production and re-planting costs. In a forage crop situation, the loss of plants can significantly reduce potential crop yield, as well as increasing the overall feed cost.


Seed-applied chemicals are target specific against a range of economically damaging insect pests and diseases during the plant establishment period.


Seedlings protected by seed treatment are in a better position to withstand environmental stresses, including pest and disease pressure. Seed treatment helps maximise seedling establishment and nurture early plant growth, helping ensure the crop or pasture is in a position to reach its full yield potential.


Complements traditional broadacre crop protection methods and other new plant protection technology such as endophytes, as part of an integrated pest management approach.


Delivers very small quantities of chemical active ingredient to the soil in comparison to broadacre applications. Chemicals are rigorously tested to ensure they have no detrimental effects on the environment.


The addition of seed coating material to seed can increase weight and size to provide a more accurate and uniform spread of seed in aerial oversowing applications and enable uniform plant spacing in precision drilling.


Reduces the need to handle chemicals on farm. It also allows more flexibility when weather conditions make it difficult to apply broadacre crop protection products.

Economic Cost of Pests

The economic benefits provided by seed treatment have been captured in many scientific trials over the years. The following brassica trial highlights the financial impact pests can have in a farming system. The trial in Canterbury demonstrated that Ultrastrike® treated kale seed produced an additional 7,800 kg of dry matter per hectare (DM/ha) than untreated seed at harvest. The net financial benefit was $1,500/ha, a high return on the $60/ha investment in seed treatment (see table below).

The replicated plot trial was sown on 4 November 2016 following cultivation, whereby Ultrastrike treated and untreated kale seed were sown at 4 kg/ha. Pre-emergent insecticide (300 ml/ha Magister and 300 ml/ha Lorsban) was applied on 7 November 2016. Plant counts were undertaken at 13, 28 and 40 days after sowing. The trial was yielded on 6 June 2017.

An observation from the trial was that the poor establishment of the untreated seed was largely attributed to Springtail pressure during the first two to four weeks after sowing. Although a pre-emergent insecticide was applied, this did not protect the untreated seed from eggs, which hatched after the insecticide spray was applied. The Ultrastrike treated seed was protected against Springtail (including eggs that hatched) for six weeks after sowing, by which time the treated seed plots were well-established with good plant canopy.