NARI reinforces laboratory Seed testing

Ministry of Agriculture Newsletter - Issue No 28, October 2020

The National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), has been giving precedence to determine the viability of seeds through laboratory testing, as seeds with low yield capacity are predicaments in agriculture. Seed testing has been developed to minimize the risk by assessing the quality of seed before it is sown.

Ms. Yohanna Ghirmay

According to Ms. Yohana Ghirmay, a laboratory technician in NARI, the Ministry of Agriculture launched Seed testing laboratory in 2001. Ms. Yohana also stated that, the seed testing laboratory conducts three main tests namely; seed purity analysis, seed germination capacity and seed moisture content.
Seed Quality Testing has had different attributes which interest different segments of the industry; the producers, processors, traders, farmers, the regulatory authority and the government or agency responsible for seed control.

Seed Purity Analysis

Seed Purity Analysis determines, as its main objective, the percentage composition by weight of inert particles of the sample and by inference of the seed lot. As the working sample is separated into pure seeds, other seeds and inert matter; the percentage of each part is then determined by weight. The size of the working sample should weigh at least 2500 seed units.

Germination Test

Ms. Yohana underlines the importance of laboratory test emphasizing that, “seed germination test is the main seed test that is implemented to determine the maximum germination potential of a seed sample, which can then in turn be used to compare the quality of different lots higher productivity. Testing under field conditions is normally unsatisfactory, as the result cannot be repeated with reliability. Laboratory methods have, therefore, been established in which the external conditions are controlled to give the most dependable, rapid and comprehensive germination level for the majority of samples of a particular species. So when it’s said that germination of a seed in a laboratory test, it is the emergence and development of the seedling to a stage where its essential structures indicate whether or not it is able to develop in to a satisfactory plant under favorable conditions in the field.”

According to Ms. Yohana, the duration of the test of individual species differ from crop to crop. Usually the test of cereals and legumes takes 7 days and for vegetables and fruits the test takes 15 days. She also indicated that the service is given to different partners like farmers; regulatory authorities of the government or agencies that are responsible for seed control.

Moisture Test

Moisture content test of seeds is designed to determine the water content of seeds through suitable methods. The moisture content of a sample is the loss in weight when it is dried. It is expressed as a percentage of the weight of the original sample.

Continuing her explanation, Ms. Yohana recommended; ‘Seed is a living biological product and its behavior cannot be predicted with certainty compared to the testing of inert or non-biological material. Therefore, seed analysis is important as seed moves across international frontiers. In all cases, the ultimate objective of making test is to determine the value of seed.’’

Finally, Ms. Yohana called upon farmers and other agricultural institutions to make best use of this classic laboratory technology prior to planting to boost their production and productivity.