Method and device for evaluating dust released from treated seeds

The present innovation describes a simple and reliable method and device for evaluating seed dust-off by using a simple “colorimetric/optical” approach. The idea is based on the concept that treated seeds are artificially colored and that release particles can be electrostatically charged.

Title of the patent Method and device to estimate the amount of powders released by agrochemicals or microorganisms treated seeds
Thematic area Agro-food
Ownership Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna
Inventors Cesare Accinelli
Protection International
Licensing status Available for licensing agreements
Keywords seed, seed treatment, dust, film-coating, pesticides, microorganism
Filed on Oct 09, 2017

The invention refers to a novel and reliable method and device for seed dust-off, which is the unintended release of fine particles released fom treated seeds after mechanical abrasions. Since seeds are coated with a plastic-like  coat containing pesticides or microorganisms, released coat fragments may have health and environmental implications  (e.g., bee colony mortaliity). This issue has prompted seed companies, industrial seeds associations, as well as the European Seed Association (ESA), to focus on reducing seed dust-off, starting by introducing a method to measure seed dust release. The currently used aproach is based on a gravimetric method. Briefly, a dust-meter, which was developed for other needs (paint industries), simulates mechanical abrasion on seeds which occurs during planting operations, and quantifies the dust released, by capturing the dust on a filter. This method is based on the pressure, delivered by a complicated mechanical system. However, due to the small amount of dust, it could frequently lead to mistakes in weighing the filters. The method foresees 5 replicates of 500 g of seeds for each samples. Each replicate needs at least 35-40 minutes for its development. In addition to the timing problem, the tool is expensive (15-20.000 €) and generates risk of inhaling dangerous dust for the operator. A full description of the method can be found on the ESA website.

The new approach is based on a simple observation: to prevent treated seeds from accidentally entering the food sector, it is mandatory adding a dye. This fact offers a remarkable practical simplification. While the method described above is based on the weight of released dust, the new approach and device are able to rapidly detect and quantify coloured fragments using a simple optical systems (portable stereomicroscopes or smartphones).

Potential applications:

Agriculture, Seed industry, Agrochemical companies, Environmental Risk Management.



A completely different and unexplored approach to evaluated seed dust-off by using a simple-to-use and  inexpensive device. This open the possibility to assess the risk of inhalation for operators of the seed industry.

In addition, this would provide a benefit for medium and small-sized seed companies, and specially of those involved in the development of seed film-coating technologies.