Around the world, seeds are commonly coated by the agricultural industry to improve sowability, visibility in the soil, and to have a binder to incorporate biological or plant-protection products around the seed, as a sustainable way to maximize germination and protect young plants in the field. Ultimately, seed coating sustainably supports farmers to obtain maximum harvest, as well as the world’s growing population to secure enough and safe food production. To quote from the Seed Applied Technologies Committee in Seed World 2019: “If you do a proper seed treatment, only 0.5 to 1% of the acreage is exposed to the active ingredient, in comparison with a sprayed application where 100% of the field is exposed.”
However, fossil-based synthetic coatings with limited biodegradability are still commonly used by the agricultural industry. These coatings leave small microplastic particles behind in the soil – meaning that synthetic plastic molecules make their way into our land, rivers and food systems. Not a great thought, right?