Seed World

Steam-Cleaning Seed: The Transformative Power of the ThermoSeed System

Early spring crop.

In the realm of agricultural innovation, Lantmännen’s steam-based process has emerged as a game-changer, offering a sustainable and efficient alternative to traditional seed treatment methods.

Steam-cleaning seed might sound like science fiction, but thanks to technology from Sweden’s Lantmännen BioAgri, growers have discovered that there’s an alternative way to treat seed that doesn’t involve chemicals and makes sustainability a priority.

The ThermoSeed steam-based seed treatment system is a process based on three fundamental steps. Understanding these is crucial to understanding why the Swedish-made process is so revolutionary.

Prior to treatment, a representative sample of the seed lot is analyzed to determine the optimal combination of time and temperature, forming the basis for creating a customized treatment recipe. The production involves specialized Thermoseed equipment to treat the seeds.

The system’s efficiency is evident in its timelines and benefits, says Lantmännen BioAgri CEO Anders Krafft. By obtaining a representative sample, the company ensures accurate testing to identify the ideal recipe.

“The resulting recipe, tailored to each seed lot, enhances seed vigour, eradicates diseases, and promotes optimal germination. The benefits extend to the farmers, who experience improved yield results, quicker emergence through soil, and a healthier seed lot,” he says.

Moreover, ThermoSeed eliminates the need for chemical treatments, contributing to environmentally positive effects.

Rye close to harvest.

ThermoSeed vs. Chemical Treatments

Comparing ThermoSeed to traditional chemical treatments reveals its advantages.

The process was developed using steam pasteurization to rid seeds of pathogens and pests.

The system delivers yield results comparable to or even better than chemical seed treatments. The increased vigour and speed of germination contribute to a more robust and efficient crop establishment.

“Beyond the enhanced plant strength, these farmers appreciate the non-chemical treatment, offering benefits not only to their crops but also to the overall working environment,” notes Christian Thaning, vice-CEO of Lantmännen BioAgri.

Additionally, ThermoSeed aligns with sustainability priorities by eliminating the need for chemical usage, promoting environmentally friendly agriculture.

“One of the significant advantages of ThermoSeed from a business management standpoint is the reduced dependence on chemical alternatives. This not only frees us and our customers from worrying about stringent regulations concerning synthetic chemistry, but also positions the company favourably in the burgeoning organic market,” Thaning adds.

“ThermoSeed, being an all-natural, chemical-free solution, is a perfect fit for conventional as well as for organic agriculture, further contributing to its acceptance and success in this sector. That said, this technology is used mainly in conventional farming as a powerful tool to better enable sustainability.”

ThermoSeed’s environmental sustainability aligns seamlessly with global initiatives such as the Green Deal. The reduction of pesticides, as highlighted in the Green Deal, positions ThermoSeed as a viable and eco-friendly alternative, says Krafft.

“Government support, exemplified by grants from agencies like Vinnova, the Swedish innovation agency, only accelerates adoption. Our commitment to sustainability is further shown by ongoing efforts to reduce analysis time, making ThermoSeed more accessible and appealing to the seed market.”

ThermoSeed seeds.

Global Impact and Future Prospects

The market response to ThermoSeed-treated seeds has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Maria Noren, seed market manager at Lantmännen BioAgri. The company has ramped up production to meet the increasing demand, with ThermoSeed-treated seeds now available throughout the world.

Approximately 150,000 tons of seed are treated annually at 12 different sites located in six countries.

Farmers worldwide have embraced the environmentally friendly process, showcasing its compatibility and superior performance for seed companies worldwide.

As understanding of the ThermoSeed process increases, its impact on agriculture is expected to be significant in the coming years.

Lantmännen BioAgri’s commitment to global accessibility is evident in its support system. While the seed treatment process currently involves sending samples to Lantmännen’s lab in Sweden, ongoing innovations aim to streamline the process.

“The goal is to enable seed producers worldwide to perform analyses at their own facilities, reducing dependency and enhancing efficiency,” says Krafft. Additionally, the company’s equipment collaboration with Ventilex, which has operations around the world, ensures a robust global support network for users.

User Training and System Operation

Operating the ThermoSeed system does not require extensive training. After an initial training period, users can confidently manage it, with the machine running autonomously for up to 24 hours. The system’s user-friendly design allows for remote operation, providing flexibility and ease of use.

“The low energy consumption of the ThermoSeed System, along with its compatibility with biomass heaters, adds to its appeal as an environmentally conscious choice,” says Thaning.

Seed companies globally are presented with a compelling case for investing in the ThermoSeed system. As chemical seed treatments face a decline, ThermoSeed emerges as a competitive and sustainable solution.

“The system’s ability to handle seed-borne diseases, insects, and bacteria positions it as an efficient and forward-thinking choice. Moreover, the lower investment cost, simplified regulations, and potential for using biomass heaters make ThermoSeed an attractive investment for seed companies looking towards a more sustainable future,” says Noren.

Key Benefits for Farmers

The three primary benefits for farmers using ThermoSeed-treated seeds are:

  • Non-Chemical Product: ThermoSeed offers a chemical-free alternative, allowing farmers to avoid exposure to harmful substances during seed handling.
  • High Vigour: The seeds treated with ThermoSeed exhibit the same or even better vigor compared to other treatment methods, ensuring optimal crop growth.
  • Environmental Friendliness: ThermoSeed-treated seeds minimize waste and contribute to a more sustainable farming practice.

To learn more, watch the video here