As the hype surrounding seed coatings, and impressive claims about their benefits abounds, Barenbrug stands out as one of the only UK seed companies not to be launching such a product.
And, as the market-leading grass seed breeder renowned for bringing new and innovative products and ideas to the turf industry, you could be forgiven for wondering why we haven't come up with a coatings product to keep up with the competition.
Well, the answer is, simply, that we haven't found a product that delivers advantages and, until we do, we won't be recommending coatings.
No proven benefit
As part of the Royal Barenbrug Group, we have looked at the potential for coatings over the last two decades across our globally operating seed company and, in some countries, introduced products that are delivering tangible benefits for customers.
But, this has only occurred in areas of the world like the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina where legislation allows useful ingredients, such as fungicides and insecticides, to be included - and that's just not the case here in Europe.
We have been inundated with offers of seed coating products and treatments and we have trialed many but, to-date, have not found any that deliver scientifically proven benefits. And, it's not just a case of there being no proven benefit - in some cases our trials, and those at the STRI, have demonstrated that coatings can actually inhibit germination and establishment.
Pay a premium
We would also urge any greenkeeper or groundsman considering coatings to look very carefully at the financial implications of using such products. Budgets are tight, so who wants to pay a premium for coated grass seed only to have to purchase twice as much seed as normal?
With coated seed, the recommended sowing rates are twice the normal rate - so you won't be placing an order for 20 bags but 40! Yes, there is some fertiliser included in a coated grass seed bag, but you're paying a very high price for less than 10kg of fertiliser.
When you're under pressure to produce quality playing surfaces while cutting costs, it's tempting to put your faith in a promising new product and to try 'the latest best thing'. But, when times are tough, it's more important than ever to take the tried and tested route, so our advice is to ignore the hype and stick instead with proven performers.
So what's the alternative?
High seed vigour and cooler temperature germination and establishment capability is what really matters. Seed from new harvest - and in our case we produce around 1,700 hectares of grass seed in the UK - offers high vigour that means faster establishment and healthier plants. When you combine this high vigour with the highest levels of purity and germination, then top-performance is delivered time after time.
Combine these stringent standards with an innovative breeding programme and substantial trials, and the results speak for themselves - innovative solutions in terms of new cultivars and mixtures.
But, don't just take our word for it. Recent introductions such as our rapid turf repair mixture BAR 50 SOS, year-round bents mixture BAR Duo and disease tolerant BAR Fescue continue to outperform other mixtures in trials, as well as wow greenkeepers and groundsmen across the country with reliable results and high performance.
However, it's important to say that we remain optimistic about seed coating technology and will continue to trial products. And, as with all Barenbrug products, if and when we launch such a product, you can be confident it will be backed by the extensive independent trials we are renowned for.
But, in the meantime, we will not be treating seed until we have found a scientifically proven enhancement that is of benefit to our customers.