Iowa’s top farm official says new changes in how seeds are measured and sold will bring uniformity to the process and benefits for farmers. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says recent action by the National Conference on Weights and Measures will standardize the procedure for selling corn, soybeans, wheat and other commodities. Northey says it will make the biggest difference for Iowa’s soybean growers.

“Soybeans, historically, have been sold by weight which can vary a lot between those with small seeds and those with large seeds, the number of seeds in the bag,” Northey says. “What this does is allows soybeans to be sold by the count.” The new procedures will go into effect January 1, 2011. Northey says the new rules create uniform procedures for testing seed by weight, volume, measure and count. He says the greater accuracy is something growers have long demanded.

“It will be easier for a soybean farmer to buy because you buy based on the number of seeds that you want,” Northey says. “You have a certain number of acres, you know how many seeds you want. Generally, we’ll plant maybe 140,000 soybean seeds an acre and you can buy that based on the number of seeds that are in bags so you know how many bags to get.” He says the upcoming change should take the guess work out of the equation for farmers.

Northey says, “Right now, if you decide to order seeds for next year, you don’t even know when you order often how many seeds are in that bag so you order about the right number and then see how it adjusts and either pick up more or less.” In an effort to bring farmers, regulators and industry together, Northey hosted a seed summit on this issue last year. He says the parties worked out a “win-win solution for everyone involved.” Learn more at the American Seed Trade Association website: ““.