Year: 2012-13

Company: Monsanto

Liaison(s): Jerald Heise, Brad White

Monsanto is a multinational agriculture and biotech company committed to meeting the needs of today while preserving the planet for tomorrow. It is the leading producer of genetically engineered seeds and herbicide, which is sold under the brand name Roundup. Monsanto is the largest American producer of corn, which is mainly used in animal feed and to produce high fructose corn syrup. Monsanto, which belongs to the materials sector and the agricultural chemical industry, actively pursues novel process enhancements to support their Biotechnology and Breeding pipelines for rapidly changing technologies in the agriculture industry. The purpose of this project is to explore innovative seed treatment technologies to keep pace with evolving chemistries and needs. Existing technologies and processes for seed treatment are becoming outmoded with advancements in chemistries and in-field performance requirements. The team investigated novel seed treatment methods which demonstrate improvements over conventional processes in terms of delivery mechanisms and efficacy. The scope of this TMP is to deliver a prototype capable of producing coated seeds using various novel delivery methods for studying coating efficiency and efficacy. Additionally, the team has developed methods for studying the dynamics of liquid seed coating by using high-speed videos and supporting analytical techniques for generating delivery performance metrics. This will help Monsanto better understand the relevant fluid properties and physics to improve current coating systems. The Monsanto TMP team designed and built a functional prototype to transport seeds and integrated the prototype with a seed formulation dispersal system. The prototype was tested and optimized to insure that it accomplished the project objectives. In addition to the testing process, the team successfully captured video of liquid droplets impacting seeds at 16,000 frames per second. With the ability to create these highspeed videos, the team investigated the dependency of fluid-seed surface interactions to dimensionless variables, including the Reynolds number and the Weber number. Finally, performance metrics were devised by the team to compare Monsanto TMP coating efficacy with efficacy studies performed at Monsanto internal trials.