Seed Treatment: Giving your crop the best start in life
In this month’s agronomy article we’re taking a close look at the seed germination process and how enhancing nutrition with liquid nutrition can give your crop a strong start to the season.
We all know the value of a healthy seed, germination and early root growth. But what if the seed is lacking key nutrients such as zinc or manganese before it is even sown? During the early stages of germination, the seed is reliant on the energy and nutrition it has stored until it can make its way to the soil surface and start photosynthesising (producing energy).
Enhancing your crop’s nutrition is one of the best ways to promote growth and ultimately enhance your crop’s yield. Further to the need for energy and nutrition for growth, a seedling is most vulnerable to pests and disease and naturally good nutrition will improve the plant’s ability to respond to these stressors with improved energy stores and the ability to build stronger roots and plant cell structure.
Germination of a seed
All seeds require their individual favoured conditions to germinate. Seeds remain dormant until the correct conditions and signals occur for germination. In the case of grain, optimal light and moisture levels need to be met before germination can occur.
Stages of germination-
- The seed is planted at the correct depth to ensure the light levels are correct for germination.
- Dry seed takes up water by imbibition and a metabolic process begins. This process softens the seedcoat for easy penetration of the juvenile plant (also known as coleoptile). See Image 1 and 2 below.
- The Seed releases plant hormones that trigger cell division and growth within the coleoptile and roots.
- An increase in plant hormones triggers germination by the transfer of energy to the roots and coleoptile. The seed releases proteins that catalyse the mobilisation of seed energy reserves.
The coleoptile uses energy from the endosperm (stored as starch) to find its way to the soil surface where the first leaves will capture light and photosynthesis begins.
The root tip plays a very important role in the production of plant hormone Auxin that regulates the production of Cytokinins which are vital for cell division. Auxins also promote root growth.
Assessing your crop’s nutrition
Crop nutrition is about knowing and addressing your limiting factors. It is important to test your crop nutrition levels with crop with soil, sap and tissue tests.
Different types of seed treatments
Firstly let’s look at Zinc, a popular choice for liquid nutrients and one that is commonly used to enhance crop nutrition.
- Zinc plays a key role in the production of ethylene hormone that regulates the ratio of GA:ABA hormones that trigger germination. Without Zinc the signal for germination may not occur.
- Zinc also plays a key role in the production of Auxins (root growth and cytokinin production).
- Zinc plays a key role in energy production for early crop vigour.
Zinc also contains the desired nutrients that enables seed to germinate successfully. A product with good levels of zinc and higher levels of phosphorus are imperative for early root growth and fuelling plant energy systems.
The application of seed coatings is easy, compatible, and cost effective. In terms of enhancing your crop’s yield, it’s the best investment you can make to increase you crop’s nutrition.
Reach out to your local Crop Smart rep for more details on in crop soil, sap and tissue tests and to find out more about how you can find that extra yield this season.