Section 7: Planting of Commercially Treated Seed

Summary: Guidelines for planting commercially treated seed and alternatives for disposing of leftover treated seed. Taking the proper planting measures for commercially treated seed is a key practice to a comprehensive stewardship plan.

  1. Environmental Stewardship for Planting
    1. Be aware of the presence of honeybee hives, or crops or weeds in the flowering stage within or adjacent to the field which could attract pollinators.
    2. Ensure that no blooming weeds are present in the field at planting, through use of weed control.
    3. Avoid off-site movement of dust from treated seeds during planting.
    4. Avoid off-site movement of dust from treated seeds during planting by observing wind speed and direction.
    5. Follow planting depth instructions, if found on the seed tag, to protect birds, mammals and the environment.
    6. Observe plant back restrictions found on the seed tag.
  2. Use of Seed-flow Lubricants
    1. Follow recommendations of planter manufacturer for use of talc or graphite.
    2. Avoid excess use rate of lubricants to minimize dust.
    3. Use proper lubricant rate to avoid buildup of unwanted residue, and to minimize dust
  3. Planting Equipment
    1. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for operation, cleaning and maintenance as found in equipment manual.
    2. Direct planter exhaust downward towards the soil surface, if possible. (Use of downward deflectors may decrease off-site movement of dust.)
    3. Always plant at the recommended seeding rate
    4. Calibrate planting equipment properly
    5. Avoid using the same equipment for treated seed and for harvested commodity seed or grain, if the treated seed labeling states it is not for food, feed, oil, ethanol, or other commodity grain channel uses.
  4. Cleaning of Planting Equipment
    1. Clean planters and seed boxes away from sensitive environmental areas, especially those that are attractive to pollinators, such as field margins with flowering crops or weeds, or near hive locations.
    2. Use a broom or shop vacuum to minimize dust release. Do not use compessed air.
    3. Do not discharge rinse water to ground, surface water or septic systems.
    4. Minimize rinse water – wash out equipment only when necessary.
    5. If possible, and will not result in an applied concentration above the label recommendation, re-apply excess rinse water from the cleaning of planting equipment to a field site for which the active ingredient is registered.
  5. Disposition of Unused Treated Seeds
    1. Small Quantities of Pesticide-Treated Seed
      1. The best way to dispose of a small quantity of leftover seed that has been treated with a pesticide is to plant it in fallow or other non-cropped areas of the farm. Note that treated seed may be hazardous to wildlife and must be planted according to seed label and bag instructions.
      2. Use the same practices and precautions that you would use when planting treated seed to produce a crop.
        1. Use an agronomically acceptable seeding rate and normal practices for that crop (for example, local planting dates and soil temperatures) as recommended by your county agricultural extension agent.
        2. Plant treated seed at a depth greater than 1 inch (2.5 cm). If the seed is broadcast on the soil surface, incorporate it immediately. This will decrease the likelihood for bird or wildlife ingestion of the seed.
        3. Unless restricted by label language, you may double sow seed around the headland.
        4. Leftover treated seed may be double planted within a portion of the field at an agronomically acceptable seeding rate.
        5. Return leftover treated seed to its original seed lot containers, if treated seed is intended for storage and subsequent planting.
        6. If the treated seed no longer has acceptable germination or has been damaged, possible disposal options include (if not prohibited on the treated seed labeling):
          1. Fermentation in an authorized alcohol-production plant (mash or distillers grains must not be used as food or feed(;
          2. Use as a fuel source for power plants or cement kilns;
          3. Incineration by a waste management facility; and
          4. Seeding to serve as wildlife habitat if allowed according to regulations and treated seed label
    2. Large Quantities of Pesticide-Treated Seed
      1. Consult first with your state and local authorities to ensure that you are in compliance with appropriate regulations.
      2. There are a variety of facilities that may be able to dispose of treated seed. However, a definitive answer on whether a municipal landfill, power plant, cement kiln, waste management facility, or ethanol plant will take seed treated with a particular pesticide can only be obtained by contacting the specific facility.
        1. Disposal in an Approved Municipal Landfill
          1. Disposal in approved municipal landfills is permitted in some states.
          2. Handle seed treated with pesticides as normal solid waste or as hazardous waste, depending on the active ingredient.
          3. Determine if the treated seed, and the resultant seed dust, are federally classified as hazardous wastes under Federal Regulation Title 40–Protection of Environment, Chapter I- Environmental Protection Agency, Subchapter I-Solid Wastes, Part 261 Identification and listing of Hazardous Waste (40 CFR.261). Note that states may have more stringent regulations. In addition, treated seed, and resultant seed dust, are subject to solid waste regulations at the state and local levels. Always check state and local regulations prior to disposing of treated seed or dust.
          4. Check the status of each active ingredient regarding its waste classification status before committing to a disposal process.
          5. The contacts for both solid and hazardous waste disposal in each state can be found at
        2. Use as a Fuel Source for Power Plants or Cement Kilns
          1. There are a variety of power plants that utilize alternative fuels. This list of power plants utilizing biomass, municipal solid waste, or non-fossil waste as an alternative fuel is extracted from the EPA National Electric Energy Data System (NEEDS) v3.02 ARRA, available at:
          2. Cement kilns can be located at
        3. High Temperature Incineration by a Waste Management Facility
          1. Disposal in high temperature waste management facilities is permitted in some states.
          2. Contact the waste management facility to determine if it can accept treated seed.
        4. Fermentation in an Alcohol-Producing Process at an Ethanol Plant
          1. Some ethanol plants may be able to use treated seed as an alternate power source.
          2. A map and lists of ethanol plants in the US and Canada is provided by Ethanol Producer Magazine on its website at