As the world’s population continues to grow, there’s a need to embrace sustainable methods in agriculture. It means that the current generation should endeavour to meet their needs without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own. This will involve soil protection and development, water resources protection, improving seed growth and the natural control of pests and diseases. Seeds are vital to food security and a farmer should choose seeds that are higher-yielding, more nutritious, and drought and climate-resilient.
In this blog post, the team at Verdesian Life Sciences looks at sustainable methods of seed growth.
What are the sustainable methods of seed growth?
Seed germination is the process of developing a seed into a plant. The factors that influence this process include oxygen, temperature, moisture and light (for some seeds). The following are some ways to improve seed growth:
This involves soaking seeds in water or chemicals under optimum conditions. The seeds absorb enough water for germination but not enough to allow radicle to protrude. This increases the germination speed and growth of seedlings, reorganises the membrane and repairs damaged cells. This, in turn, ensures seed productivity as germination happens quickly and uniformly. It’s a sustainable technique that can increase crop production without damaging the ecosystem.
Biopriming ivolves inoculating seeds with beneficial organisms to protect and hydrate the seed, promoting plant growth and development and suppressing diseases.
This involves soaking seeds in nanomaterials which penetrate the seed coat and increase water intake. It improves storage, seedling emergence, tolerance to environmental stress, quality, yields and prevents diseases. Nanoparticles are a sustainable way to grow seeds due to their size and unique physio-chemical properties. Using this technique in agriculture and the natural ecosystem increases the performance and sustainability of soil and plants.
Hydopriming utilises clean water so it’s safe for the farmer, leaves no toxic residues and reduces costs.
Hormonal priming is the process of using plant growth regulators that affect seed metabolism to imbibe the seeds.
Osmopriming involves soaking seeds in low water potential solutions to reduce water inhibition. The solutions used are organic and inorganic salts. After soaking, the seeds are air-dried before sowing. Osmotic solutions used include sorbitol, sugar, polyethene, glycerol and mannitol.
Halo priming is the process of treating seeds with inorganic solutions like calcium sulphate, sodium chloride, calcium chloride and potassium nitrate.
This technique uses containers with moistened media to sow the seeds. The containers are sealed and exposed to cold temperatures outdoors. When the temperatures warm up, the seeds begin to germinate.
Dealing with seed diseases
For diseases to occur there must be a pathogen, a host and a favourable environment for infection. The techniques for treating seeds to reduce potential diseases such as damping off include:
- Hot water treatments
- Bleach treatment
- eroxide treatment
- Beneficial microbes and compost extracts
- Treating reused seed trays and containers
- Commercial microbial products