Articles Within Our Area of Expertise: Pelletizing
Pelleting: How to increase efficiency and capacity by 800%
You want to deliver the same high quality pelleted seed every year, every batch and every seed lot, all year long.
From vegetable and sugar beet seed to grass and tree seed, there is a growing interest in pelleting, which improves seed size, shape and uniformity. I’ve even noticed an increasing trend for pelleting canola and sunflower seed.
The benefits of using pelleted seed are many, including optimally-spaced, uniform plant stands, especially with the use of precision planters, and a larger surface area to apply nutrition and protection products, thus increasing the seed’s value. Additionally, when precision planting pelleted seed, the number of seeds required per acre is often reduced by 50 to 80 percent. When pelleting seed, there are a number of important advantages to using a rotostat seed treater (also known as a batch seed treater) over other types of treaters.
Quality control is a critical element to treating seed. You want to deliver the same high-quality pelleted seed every year, every batch and every seed lot, all year long. A rotostat seed treater’s PLC-based, closed system provides precise dosing rates and correct applications in every batch; thus, the consumer’s investment ends up on the seed. This rotostat treater also improves quality control over other types of seed treaters, such as the drum treater, because the recipes and methods are contained within and carried out by the equipment, and not by an operator. Not only does this mean all batches have the same quality, but a company is not dependent on a specific operator to maintain quality and skills. Furthermore, reports and statistics are easily accessible and supervised.
The rotostat’s closed system also provides a huge advantage when it comes to an operator’s working environment. The closed powder feeder and dosing system for liquids as well as the treater’s automated cleaning process, which rinses all equipment and hoses, ensures operators don’t handle toxic materials. Pelleting with a rotostat eliminates the dust issues associated with drum pelleting, where operators are often exposed to the products they are applying.
Improved efficiencies of a rotostat treater include shortened processing times — it can take anywhere from 40 minutes to four hours to produce a batch of pellets with a drum treater, whereas it takes the same procedure five to 10 minutes with a rotostat treater. In addition, the wet sieving process is eliminated. Given these efficiencies, a rotostat treater pays for itself in no time, and its sophisticated technology will also lower your labor costs.
How to easily benefit from, and gain experience
How do you learn the skills necessary to unlock your equipment’s potential and optimize seed treatment technologies?
It’s not rocket science, but it’s close. Applying today’s seed treatment technologies requires sophisticated equipment and know-how. Additionally, competition in seed processing is fierce, the products are expensive, and customers are demanding more value added to the seed with consistent quality year-round.
Seed treatment equipment operators must be up on the latest seed enhancement technologies and understand how and when to apply a number of products, such as pesticides, fungicides, nutrients, biologicals, inoculants, functional coatings and colorants. Also, budgets are shrinking, and staff turnover is increasing, so expertise is seldom found in-house. How do you learn the skills necessary to unlock your equipment’s potential and optimize seed treatment technologies? There is a way.
Now, independent consultants can bring training and expertise to the companies that require them, anywhere in the world. These specialists can train staff, troubleshoot application issues, test products, customize recipes, methods and equipment, and provide impartial advice on all aspects of seed treating and equipment, no matter the seed treatment brand or product.
In fact, an independent consultant can examine the whole seed treatment process at your operation. Whether you’re new to seed enhancement technologies, have identified areas to improve in your existing processes, or want to build expertise in-house, a consultant is the most economical and efficient way to go about it.
These professionals are always testing new products, technologies and equipment, and they know what’s in the pipeline; they’re at the forefront of science—and they can help you get there too. You will get more value out of your equipment investment as well as gain a competitive edge in the industry.
I believe if you’re only competing in the marketplace on price and product you won’t last because today’s consumers want value. Improving your processes or technologies can produce that value.
Providing a consulting service to our customers was a natural step for NoroGard. Our in-house expert, who specializes in the application of all types and brands of seed treatment technologies, methods and applied products for coating and pelletizing has been working in all areas of seed treatment for 25 years, and travels around the world helping seed processors. After all, there’s no point selling top-of-the-line seed treating equipment if operators can’t use it to its full potential. An independent consultant can ensure your equipment serves you, and not the other way around.
Is your seed coating equipment really fit for pelletizing?
The demand for more complex applications and recipes for pelletizing and encrusting increases, and so does the demand for proper equipment to:
- Decrease dust and environmental impact
- Maximize capacity
- Minimize time loss for cleaning
- Increase quality control
The risk of not having the proper equipment can result in poor or uneven quality of your product. Applying more products to the seed increases the need for a proper drying equipment, for example.
Twenty years ago we introduced the batch treater with integrated drying in the bowl by adding air. This is still only an option if you have a fairly simple application, and you know exactly what drying time is required. This means you always have the same parameters like humidity, temperature etc. over the day/week.
The challenge is that you have to release the seed at the precise moment. If the seed runs in the bowl until it’s dry, you have already started the process of rubbing off your coat, and a great deal of your investment goes into your ventilation system instead. This mistake is common and very costly. Drying seed in your treater also decreases your capacity significantly. By using a proper after-treatment dryer, you get to control the quality of your product, you minimize dust issues and give your seed a nice surface finish.
Some characteristics of a proper seed treater for pelletizing are: Stainless steel in the walls of your bowl, which prevents a lot of wear and maintenance. A lining in the bottom that provides proper friction to create an accurate motion of the seed. The quality of this lining is crucial to prevent it wearing out, and to create the proper motion of the seed. Especially uniform seed will need accurate friction. A proper lining also prevents unnecessary cleaning and handles the seed gently.
Closed systems for liquids and powder dosage systems protect employees, the environment and also gives a high application rate control with even production quality. A drying table that gives you control of quality and frees up capacity also allows you to be flexible and introduce more options in your product range — whether it´s volume seeds, vegetable seeds or grass seed, for example. Investing in the proper seed treatment equipment for pelletizing always gives you a return on investment. Quality is remembered long after cost is forgotten