Planting the right type of seed to improve production

Planting the right type of seed to improve production

Seeds are the main component of diets globally, 70% of mankind’s food and livestock feed consists of or is derived from seeds. Seeds also fill other rules in the human diet, apart from the direct application as food or feed, and also have a commercial value. The following examples of the importance of seeds commercially are large-seeded grass species (grains such as rice, wheat, tef, and maize), legumes such as soybeans, beans, groundnuts, peas, and lentils, production of meat are also primarily dependent upon seed crops, many seeds have used spices as whole seed or milled seeds, popular hot beverages such as coffee, cola, and cacao originate from seeds, beer is brewed from barley; whiskey and gin are distilled from milled grain granules that are fermented, edible oils for salads and cooking oil, cotton is spun from cellulose fibres that surround the seeds of cotton plants, and starch derived from crops such as maize can be used for many industrial purposes.

In order to produce the food mentioned above, one requires seeds – living seeds. However, the type of life present in seeds is unique – it is virtually life in suspension as seeds survive despite their very low moisture content which may be as low in some cases as 3%. At this low moisture level, no visible sign of life can be observed. It is only when seeds begin to take up water that they start to show signs of life. However, not all seeds that take up water and swell out will germinate. Germination, therefore, includes various biochemical and cellular events. The germination process is invisible, the only observation or determinable stage of germination is the ending thereof.
Seeds gradually lose their ability to germinate as they grow older. Some seeds like soybeans have a very short life span under storage, whereas other seeds lose their ability over a longer period (grasses). There are various factors that determine the longevity of a seed, the most important two are seed moisture content and temperature. Also, there are factors that influence the storage life span of the seed, initial seed quality, genetic composition, moisture content, and temperature. Only seeds with high germinability and vigour should be stored.

Seeds having poor quality will have a short storage life. The moisture content of the seed during storage is without a doubt the most important factor that will determine storage life. It is important to harvest mature relatively seeds or to reduce the moisture content of wet seeds shortly after harvest. Deterioration of seeds accelerates with an increase in moisture content. According to Harrington each 1% decrease in moisture content (in the range of 5 – 14%) will result in doubling the storage life of the seed. It is important to note that unless seeds are hermetically sealed their moisture content during storage will not remain constant. In conditions of open storage, seed moisture will equilibrate with that of the air and varies according to moisture in the air.

Problems or limitations of small holder/communal farmers

The majority of communal farmers lack knowledge of seed and seed management principles. The production practices that are used by communal farmers in a way contradict the practices that are recommended. They prefer to use the seeds of the previous harvest seeds as seeds for the next planting, with a mind to maximizing profit. Planting seeds that are not certified, with no records of germination percentage, seed dormancy, and seed vigour leads to a decline in production. Certified seeds are seed of a consistently high and known quality (genetically and physically) that has been produced according to the rules and regulations of an official seed certification scheme and for which proof of certification is available.

The certificate, seal, and label are a guarantee of varietal purity and good seed quality. Seed quality consists of seed purity, health germinability, and seed vigour. Seed vigour represents those characteristics of seed that determine the potential for the rapid and uniform emergency of normal seedlings under a wide range of field conditions. Seed dormancy is the event where live seeds will not germinate even if all the environmental conditions are favourable. The seed will not germinate even if water and oxygen are adequate and temperature favourable. Lack of knowledge of the above-mentioned will led to a decline in production and loss of income in the long term which results in their business being closed or liquidated.

Proposed possible solutions

Communal farmers need to be trained on how to handle the seed for future use. Even though most of them do not have the resources to practice a task, one needs to know the basics. Seeds are living organisms. The healthy development of seeds starts directly after pollination. Any careless handling during any of the processes will result in a decline in the capacity to germinate and produce a healthy plant.

Communal farmers need to be advised to buy certified seeds of any variety or crop that they plant. Even though the certified seeds are expensive, the results are guaranteed. With good skills and management, production will be improved. The aim of certification is to conduct genetic maintenance of existing varieties. The advantage of buying certified seed is that you obtain seed of a kwon quality.The full article is for subscribed members only. To view the full article please subscribe. It’s FREE!Log In Register

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