NAAC Trials: Size Matters When Using Farm-Grown Seed

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Independent field trials conducted this year by SGS for the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) show that size matters when it comes to seed.

Larger seeds result in significantly higher vigor, emergence, crop height and rooting weight, according to trials. These trials are now being harvested when the final yield results will also be analyzed.

These results are particularly important for this fall and spring because risk management will be a key element in producers’ anticipation.

As input costs continue to rise to breathtaking levels, with no signs of slowing down, tight juggling will be required to manage crop establishment and agronomy costs and cash flow, while crop prices Commodities remain a relative unknown next year.

Farm-saved seed will be an obvious choice for many, but it will be essential that each seed planted has the optimum opportunity to grow and achieve a productive yield, the NAAC said.

Integrated farm management techniques can help growers minimize the application of nutrients and crop protection products, but the seed itself will remain the cornerstone of any subsequent crop.

While NAAC processors suspected seed size was important, there was a lack of independent research and when initial processor trials in Cornwall indicated a link, it led the contractor body to commission trials greenhouse scientists of winter wheat and spring barley in 2020 to collect evidence. .

Early results (see table) confirm the long held belief of seed processors that larger seeds have improved germination, emergence and vigor.

The next step brought field trials. In the fall of 2021, the NAAC commissioned a split seed pruning field trial with SGS, which planted the seeds and monitored crop growth, taking the final crop to harvest for a measure of seed response. yield.

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Winter wheat and spring barley were sorted by size into four different fractions, ranging from >2.8 mm to

Trial results prove that sorting seeds, to select the largest fraction, will significantly increase:

• Vigor

• Emergence

• Cultivation height

• Rooting weight.

“So it’s critical, if the farm is economizing, to sort the seed by size,” said Richard Jones, NAAC seed section president. “Our results clearly show the benefits of using quality farm-saved seed, selected by size to balance cost and yield.

“By selecting the larger seed sizes, growers can help their crop establish well and move forward to potentially benefit from higher yields in the final harvest.

When a mobile seed processor is used, the waste fraction is also left on the farm, to be sold or used as feed. In this way, there is no waste, which saves money, while selecting the best seeds for the crop, he pointed out.

These trials have demonstrated that the practice of barn-storage seed soaking, without screening or gravity selection, is not a proven route to success and that money will be well spent on farm-saved seed being cleaned and transformed by professionals.

* The Mobile Seed Section of the National Association of Agricultural Entrepreneurs (NAAC) comprises seed processors from across the UK, who provide professional seed treatment services to farmers and growers.

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