July 28, 2021
The quality of seeds determines the overall value of crop yield and crop health. Poor quality seeds may lead to slow germination, poor crop stands, and weak seedlings. Challenges such as cold soil, soilborne pathogens, and other unfavorable conditions can be overcome by maintaining the quality of seeds. Furthermore, the increasing demand for organic seeds has led to the increased capacity to produce high-quality seeds necessary for meeting our food and nutrition needs.
Seed testing minimizes the hazards in crop production. Seed testing determines the quality issue in seeds before plantation, saving time and financial losses. Seed testing is also required to check the suitability of seeds for planting. The quality of seeds determines the need for further procedures such as drying and processing. Seed testing laboratories need to generate accurate results that meet the quality and regulatory standards.
1. Genetic Purity Testing
This test aims at identifying and quantifying transgenic DNA elements in a seed lot. The farmers use this information for decision-making for the selection of plants. The test also helps farmers ensure that the seed produced from a particular crop is true-to-type. Farmers must avoid planting seeds in regions of cross-contamination and maintain adequate distance between cross-pollinating crops.
2. Physical Purity Testing
In this test, seeds are physically examined to determine the percentage by weight of seeds of other crops, pure seeds, weed seeds, and inert matter in a seed sample.
3. Viability Testing
This test determines the percentage of live seeds in a sample that has the potential to germinate and grow into a healthy seedling under favorable environmental conditions.
4. Vigor Testing
Vigor testing evaluates the speed at which seeds germinate and their ability to turn into strong and healthy seedlings under a range of environmental and field conditions.
5. Seedborne Disease Testing
Seedborne pathogens grow on seed surfaces and can have devastating and long-lasting detrimental effects on crop productivity. Even saprophytic fungi and bacteria can decrease the viability and vigor of seeds. This test identifies such pathogens and possible risks to the health and productivity of seed lots.
6. Moisture Content Testing
A good quality seed must have a low moisture content as high moisture content is likely to harm the germination of seeds. For this test, a seed sample is dried at a specific temperature and for a specific duration. Once the sample is dried, the weight loss is calculated as a percentage of the weight of the original sample to determine the moisture content.
Seed testing laboratories play an essential role for seed producers and consumers by providing authentic information on seed quality. Seed testing laboratories determine the seed quality. Seed testing experts examine the physical characteristics of seeds and test seeds at protein and genetic levels. Seed testing ensures that farmers receive high-quality tested seeds from seed dealers and retail stores. The seed test results must be mentioned on the packaging labels as required by the Federal Seed Act and State laws.
A laboratory information management system (LIMS) helps seed testing laboratories generate comprehensive test reports or certificates of analysis (CoA) as per customers’ requirements and state and federal regulations. Furthermore, it helps automate experimental workflows, follow regulatory guidelines, enhance efficiency, improve workflow standardization, and assure seed quality. It helps manage routine and non-routine seed samples and sample lots throughout their life-cycle and also maintains tests and test results. An Agriculture LIMS software helps meet quality control standards and assure the accuracy and reliability of test results. It minimizes the turnaround time (TAT) without compromising the quality of test results. Furthermore, a LIMS generates 1D or 2D barcodes, prints labels, and enables laboratories to track seed samples using barcodes.
Seed testing holds a lot of importance as seed quality forms the basis of the food consumed by people globally. High-quality seeds provide the foundation for the health and safety of consumers. Seed testing laboratories test for moisture content, germination and vigor, physical and genetic purity, seed-borne pathogens, and insect infestation in seeds. Laboratories face various challenges such as tracking and managing samples received from various sources, managing a diverse range of tests, test results, generating CoAs, and following regulatory guidelines. An agriculture LIMS software is crucial for meeting the data management, quality, automation, and regulatory requirements of seed testing laboratories.