SATEC Dust Monitor

The logical response to the challenge of “dust-free seed”

This dust monitor uses photometric technology to analyse dust levels in seed samples continuously drawn from production and sampled immediately upstream of the bagging line. The appliance

  • delivers results which correlate very well with the Heubach values
  • runs automatically “in the background”, using the automatic sampler during seed treatment
  • records the measurement results
  • allows intervention in the control system of the coating machine (e.g. shutdown if maximum limits are exceeded)
  • is able to show even extremely low dust concentrations per kg seed, since the sensitivity of the system can be modified by various adjustable parameters, thus allowing the operator to enter a freely selectable trigger value
  • shows the course of production quality over time, since it generates not only one average value per batch but several partial measurements (the number is freely selectable), stating the exact time in each case
  • can be adapted to virtually any make or brand of coating equipment, thus allowing the measured dust level to be integrated into the data records of the coating machine
  • integrates anywhere in the production system – e.g. for grain seeds it can be installed upstream of the coating machine to determine dust levels before the coating is applied
  • has been approved by the Julius Kühn Institute (the Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants).
  • You can download the JKI-Report HERE

Samples are taken continuously by an automatic sampler and collected initially in the storage hopper of the SATEC Dust Monitor.

Satec Dust Monitor

As soon as a specified quantity (level sensor) has been collected inside the hopper, the sample is discharged down a pipe into the final sample collection container, from which the average sample is subsequently taken. The dust level of the falling seeds is measured photometrically, the measurements being recorded once per second and plotted immediately on a curve. In this way any number of measurement points are recorded and evaluated for each batch, and their maximum values are displayed. This ensures that seed quality is monitored over the whole time of production.

The SATEC Dust Monitor:

  • ensures maximum certainty already at the production stage
  • minimises the risk of faulty batches, and
  • eases the increased responsibility of the staff



Dust measurement with the SATEC Dust Monitor can naturally be carried out for purposes other than seed treatment, e.g. in the laboratory or for testing returns and overstock merchandise; it can be used for monitoring dust levels not only in any type of seed sample but also in a wide variety of bulk goods.

  • Data are stored on a USB stick and/or online in the formulation records of the coating equipment control system.
  • Monitoring parameters are shown directly on the equipment or on the coating machine display.
  • Any kind of acoustic or visual alarm unit can be connected.

An abrupt and major change in the sector of plant protection, particularly in the field of seed coating, occurred in 2008 due to bee mortality in Rheingraben. The European Commission set up the Directive 2010/21/EU on 12 March 2010, which stipulates that, from 1 November 2010, seed treatments containing clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and fipronil may be used only in seed treatment facilities which apply the best available techniques to ensure that the release of dust during seed treatment and right up to the time of sowing is kept to an absolute minimum. 

The Heubach test is used and specified for measuring this dust. It now also applies to other insecticides and fungicide substances and applications, including for cereals. The higher the sowing density is, the lower the Heubach dust value should be for the seed in question so as not to exceed a specific quantity of dust per hectare. The limit values should ensure that the resulting dust load of the seed is low enough to avoid any hazardous contamination of the environment.

Other seed treatment producers have to develop suitable formulations or improve existing formulations – but we don’t have to! Because we have long provided what has suddenly become a requirement – wear-resistant coatings containing active substances, adhering to the seed and not forming any dust that could enter the environment – and we have done so since we founded our company in 1980/81.

Although the only method available in 2010 to measure dust, we were not impressed with the practicality of the Heubach test. In the best case, results are only available two days after coating is implemented so there is no way during this time to prove the treated seeds are dust-free. The measurement process is also unreliable and requires extensive weighing technology.

We therefore started to develop our own method, which resulted in 2011 in the SATEC® Dust Monitor. This was presented to the JKI and it was assigned the test number G1913.

Occupational safety and environmental protection have greatly increased in importance over the past years. There are certainly a range of methods for random sampling post-production to check whether the dust levels of the coated seeds or other types of bulk goods meet specifications. Our SATEC® Dust Monitor means that such testing can be implemented directly during production. Automatic sampling and photometric analysis of the measurement volumes obtained in a counter-current process enable direct intervention in the production process. Data storage for evidence of compliance with specifications is ensured as a matter of course.

Our system can also be used for raw material quality control, both in online and offline operation. Depending on the model, the measurement data are displayed with various particle size fractions. We introduced a successor in 2021, the SATEC Dust Monitor 2.0. The measurement technology is more robust and fractions P1-P10 can now be displayed.

As with our coating machines, we rely on the principle “Knowledge and documentation”. Continuous recording of dust levels, before treatment for cereals and after treatment for seeds that still need coating with a powder, offers the highest level of security compared to random sampling tests.

Our device is not solely intended to measure dust, but primarily to document the lack of dust. This means that effective dust removal (cereals) or effective “adhesion” of the components is necessary.

This precision recording means the user no longer has to fear that the applicable values could be exceeded. This therefore increases acceptance for the required low dust values.

In conclusion: The Satec Dust Monitor can already determine during production what the subsequent Heubach test, where necessary, evidences:

– Market-ready, almost completely dust-free treated seeds.

Certification of the treatment plants will be significantly more cost-effective when this online dust measurement system is present, because it directly proves that the Heubach value is being met – and that the technical and organisational requirements are also compliant.

The dust levels of cereal seeds immediately after threshing can vary greatly from one year to another, depending on weather conditions.

New dust is formed during transport of any kind (e.g. on the elevator).

Maximum freedom from dust for coated seed can be achieved only if the seed itself is as free as possible from dust immediately before the coating is applied.

To ensure that the seed meets these requirements, its “freedom from dust” is checked with the SATEC Dust Monitor – during the course of production. The values are stored, thus making it possible at all times to verify that only dust-free seed was coated.

All tests up to now have shown that dust-free seed remains dust-free after the coating has been applied.

SATEC Dust Monitor during the coating of cereals

  • Variations in the dust levels are detected and can be corrected before coating takes place.
  • Production processes are safeguarded.

Proof of quality can be retrieved at any time.