Seed quality and sprouting is very important for both organic and conventional farming. Therefore, in 2019 the researchers of the Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES) together with farmers from SIA "Vidzemes mežsaimnieks" and SIA "Damuižnieki" started to develop innovative technologies for seed preparation, pre-sowing and sowing of valuable, but slow growing plants. In 2020, the researchers tested the developed technologies in field conditions.
In very early stage of growing, during sprouting a plant have to outcompete its rivals – weeds. Higher competitiveness of a plant means better germination rate, higher production and yield. To help to higher plant competitiveness during sprouting, the researchers of IES are developing innovative seed preparation technologies for pre-sowing and sowing.
Not all plants can sprout within a few days. While cereal seeds germinate in 3 to 7 days, sprouting of herb and vegetable seeds can take much longer time. Researchers of IES have accepted a challenge. In this research, they have selected plants, which seeds germinate in 14 to 24 days. These plants are dill, coriander, thyme, pot Marigold, carrot and onion. The researchers are developing a brand-new sprouting technology for them in controlled conditions, so that the plants would be prepared to outcompete weeds in a field.
To find the technology that showcases the best results, researchers have already carried out various tests. After tests in controlled conditions, researchers have found out that a seed is sprouting much better when its root has already germinated. Thus, this technology can be considered as the most successful one.
After seed preparation, very important process is to carefully deliver germinated seeds into the soil without harming the radicle. To prevent this harm, the researchers developed a technology for seed coating. Seeds were coated in liquid capsules and then sowed in the soil using a specially designed machine. As the seeds were sowed, the field trials were ready to be stared. During them, researchers tested the developed technologies in field conditions.
In the Summer of 2020, IES’s researchers carried out the field trials. Previously prepared and coated seeds finally found their way into the soil. Their germination rate was compared to control sample – unprepared seeds. Altogether, in the summer season the researchers repeated field trials for 6 times. They were eager to find out how the sprouting is influenced by different coating methods, changes of temperature, humidity and other climate conditions. They concluded that the climate conditions can significantly impact the success of sprouting.
The leading researcher of IES Dr. Ieva Mežaka describes the field trial process and findings:
“the sprouted seeds are vulnerable to unfavourable weather conditions. If the soil is not humid enough, it is very likely that the sprouted germ will dry out and die. In total, we carried out field trials in 6 replicates. In each replicate environmental conditions were different and germination rate variated by treatments.”
The next step of the research is to compile the results and showcase the conclusions to the wider audience. IES’s researchers plan to participate in scientific conference in Vecauce, Latvia. They will present results of trials with seed pre–treatment using ultrasound how did it help to promote higher germination rate.
Innovative seed preparation technologies for pre-sowing and sowing of slow growing plants are developed as part of EU European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, Rural Development Programme 16. action “Cooperation” 16.2. sub measures “Support for new products, methods, processes and technologies” supported project “New seed preparation technologies for pre-sowing and sowing” (Nr. 18-00-A01620-000051).
More about the project here.