Treated Seed

Treated seedWhat should you do with unwanted seed that has been treated with a pesticide? If possible, the seed should be planted!  Leftover treated seed may be doublesown around the headland or within a portion of the field at an agronomically acceptable seeding rate.  However, if the treated seed no longer has acceptable germination or has been damaged, preferred options include 1) fermentation in an alcohol-producing process (mash or distillers grains should not be used as feed), 2) use as a fuel source for power plants or cement kilns, 3) incineration by a waste management facility, or 4) seeding to serve as wildlife habitat.

If the seed bag tag states that the treated seed may be hazardous to wildlife, do NOT seed for wildlife habitat.

When seeding (at an agronomically acceptable seeding rate) for wildlife habitat, use normal practices (for example, local planting dates and soil temperatures) that are recommended by your state agricultural extension agent. To protect wildlife and aquatic organisms, cover or collect treated seeds that are spilled during loading and in areas such as row ends, and plant seed away from bodies of water.  Treated seed must be planted at a depth greater than 1 inch.

Disposal in approved municipal landfills is permitted in some states. However, landfill disposal is costly and usually not practical for large volumes of treated seed; and permits may be required. Composting is not recommended. Other methods may be available, but consult first with your state and local authorities to be sure you are in compliance with appropriate regulations. The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) provides contact information for state offices that regulate pesticides. If disposal is the selected option, seed treated with pesticides may be handled as normal solid waste or as hazardous wastes, depending on the active ingredient. The contacts for both solid and hazardous waste disposal in each state can be found on the EPA Links to Hazardous Waste Programs and U.S. State Environmental Agencies webpage.

Seed treated with Syngenta active ingredients such as thiamethoxam, mefenoxam, fludioxonil, and difenoconazole are not classified as hazardous wastes under 40 CFR.261. They are classified as “Dirt, Grain, Seeds Contaminated with Pesticides/Non-DOT Regulated, Non-Hazardous Waste” and are subject to solid waste regulations at the state and local levels. If Syngenta seed treatment products are combined with other active ingredients, they may need to be classified differently. Check the status of each active ingredient regarding its waste classification status before committing to a disposal process.

The Seed Treatment and Environmental Committee of the International Seed Trade Federation has prepared an informative paper ( outlining general guidelines and possible options for disposal of treated seeds in some countries. Always follow federal, state, and local regulations.

Adapted with permission from the Syngenta Crop Protection Environmental Stewardship Web Site


Compiled by Wayne Buhler, PhD.

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