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Science

Dust treatment comes clean: Seed lubricant provides farmers soy product option

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Dust is a seed box treatment that provides singulation and lubrication when planting corn and soybean seeds.

“Dust is a play on words because it is actually less dusty than talc or graphite,” said Michael Musselman, business development for Low Mu Tech, which markets Dust. “It’s cleaner, it’s safer and it’s soy.”

“This product is the first real change in planter box lubrication in 40 years,” said Brian Tulley, developer of Dust, who worked on the product for several years and received the patent for Dust on Oct. 1, 2019.

Tulley began his work to develop a new product after using talc and graphite while helping his friends during planting season.

“I looked for something that would be different than what we were currently using and realized everything on the market was a combination of the two existing products in different percentages of talc or graphite as a base,” he said.

A friend, who became Tulley’s business partner, suggested he try soy protein.

“I bought some soy protein from a feed mill and worked to find the right percentage to use,” he said. “It took about four years to find the percentage of soy protein and soy lecithin to give us the singulation of talc and the lubricant of the graphite.”

Dust can be used in all types of planters and meters, Musselman noted from his booth at the 29th annual Quad Cities Farm Equipment Show.

“Dust was used on just under 4 million acres last year,” Tulley said.

“The flow agent is used in planters, so the seed will release from the seed disc or finger in a proper time and fashion,” Musselman said. “Singulation means grabbing one seed at a time in a timely fashion so the spacing is done correctly.”

Research conducted at Kansas State University, Musselman said, shows that Dust is equal for singulation performance in Vac planters to talc or graphite.

“We also have data from The Ohio State University and University of Missouri for the performance of Dust,” he said.

“Last year, we actually sold out of product because I underestimated the hatred of talc and graphite,” Tulley said.

“Farmers have never really had an option that worked that didn’t have adverse side affects,” Tulley said. “With other products, if you didn’t hit your application rate spot on then you ended up with things sticking to the sensors or sticking to the planter plates, and we wanted to avoid that.”

Dust, Tulley said, has a broad application window, which is both good and bad.

“Dust can be used in a lot of different planter types, but when people started using it, they were use to adding higher rates of product,” he explained.

“The use rate for Dust is one to two ounces per unit of seed,” Musselman said.

“We’re a manufactured product, so we want it to work the same today as it did yesterday,” Tulley said.

“We’re never going to be less expensive than something that is mined out of the ground,” he said. “But farmers are really tired of the fact that today talc may be a dark gray color and flow pretty good and tomorrow it is a light grey color and sticky.”

Dust is available in 7- and 14-pound pails.

The seed lubricant product is sponsored by the United Soybean Board.

“The USB has given us grants to commercialize the product,” Musselman said. “Because it is a soy protein product, research shows within 28 days it’s broken down in the soil and it becomes a food source for microbes.”

Dust is sold through a distributors and the website at www.lowmutech.com.

“You can order on the website, or find a distributor in your area from our website to purchase Dust,” Musselman said. “We have over 150 distribution points and we’re adding dealers and distributors.”

For more information about Low Mu Tech or to purchase Dust, go to www.lowmutech.com, or call 844-438-3878.

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