Part 1: How we develop new sugar beet seed treatments

In this two part feature, our lead scientist Jordan Long takes us through the development stages of new sugar beet seed treatments. Germains Seed Technology develops new seed treatments that are scientifically formulated that aim to optimise emergence, provide early growth under a wide range of conditions. All new seed treatments are backed by field trial date with the goal of helping growers maximise yield.

This development process for new sugar beet seed treatments requires procedures to manufacture the products to the highest quality. Also identifying information and data about the product and its benefits.

In order to achieve this, we need to be constantly working on new ideas and bringing these through the development process. Our leading seed treatment series Xbeet®, has now launched its new product, Xbeet enrich 200. This product has been on its research and development journey and is now nearing full commercial introduction. At this stage, scale up work has been done in the factory and samples from commercial scale production are being tested in the field in order to confirm the products performance.

This journey takes a lot of investment over several years; just gathering enough evidence of field performance takes 3 years of field trials. These trials can only begin once the product has been developed into its final form.

Research & development of new sugar beet seed treatments

Idea generation

New product development starts with the screening of potential ideas and involves testing a range of treatments or materials;
• Ideas of things to add or do to the seed to enhance its germination, emergence, early plant growth or improve the health of the plant
• Research how these things might work, in order to make a judgement
• Decisions based on experience and available information as to whether it’s something, which could be turned into a product that will bring real benefits


The screening process is not as simple as just throwing some material into the pellet and doing a test, we;
• Test against appropriate controls
• Carry out both standard and stressed germination and emergence tests, to show that there is no detrimental effect on the seed; as high concentrations of some of these additives or different materials/processes can affect germination
• Test different varieties of seed in order to understand the optimum rate or treatment that works on all different varieties and seed qualities

Diagram process of ideas and screening for new sugar beet seed treatments
Process of ideas and screening for new sugar beet seed treatments

Laboratory tests

The next stage is testing the effect on plant growth. Once we have identified rates or processes that pass the germination and lab emergence tests, we need to do some specific tests to demonstrate a benefit. The type of tests depend on how the material is supposed to work. We need to make sure we do the right tests that can show us if the treatment is having an effect. These might be plant growth tests if it is a nutrient of biostimulant, as they work by affecting plant growth after emergence.

The process is to grow plants under controlled conditions and then measure some attribute of the morphology, metabolism or gene expression within the plant.

At the laboratory on the Norwich research park scientists have developed some qPCR tests that allow us to measure if specific genes associated with plants defences or nutrient uptake are switched on by the treatments we are applying. This allows us to understand at an early stage of growth if our new treatments are likely to have an effect. The Lab process at Norwich research park for the development of new sugar beet seed treatments is as follows.

Diagram of process at Norwich research park, new sugar beet seed treatments

Part two of our R&D feature, covering the ways we test new sugar beet seed treatments will be available to view soon. If you would like to be updated on the release of this feature or advance notice of “Part Two” prior to release, please contact Key Account Manager, Kerry Buttriss.