The Importance of Nutrient Content of Seed

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As Harvest ’15 is now well underway and many growers have their minds set on planting next year we all start looking at strategies for improving crop performance next year. One strategy is retaining seed from harvest this year, with focus is being placed on the nutrient density and quality of the retained seed. Some farmers have started trialling spraying foliar nutrients onto crops they are keeping for seed, late in the season to hyper accumulate nutrients in the grain (biofortification). This will aid in providing the next years crops with strong early vigour and health as they will have the catalysts to get up and going early, without having to hunt for them. For information on Seed Nutrition contact Injekta Field Systems on 08 8332 7039.

Biofortification is the process of increasing the nutritional value of crops, which can involve a variety of different methods. Today we will only be discussing biofortification through spraying foliar nutrients late in season.

Important nutrients:

Phosphorous; due to its very low mobility in soil (can be less than 1mm per week) the seed needs to have P in its arsenal. If the plant has to wait until the roots can reach the P, genetic potential has possibly already been lost.

Magnesium; magnesium plays a key part in germination. In high Mg soils in NSW, they have trouble with ‘shot’ grain (where the grain germinates in the head prior to being harvested). This gives a great insight to the effect of Mg accumulation on the establishment of next years crop. Mg is the central atom on chlorophyll (the stuff that makes a leaf green) so once the coleoptile reaches the soil surface, the plant has the ability to start photosynthesising.

Zinc is a brand new 600hp tractor, compared to a horse and plough; it makes things so much easier and quicker for the plant. Zinc is a catalyst for many reactions that the plant needs to perform to get itself established.

Boron is often thought of as a toxic element, and it is. However, Boron plays important roles in both pollination and seed reproduction. An article on boron (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FA%3A1009725311624) found that boron concentrations in the seed have profound effects on germination. It is counter intuitive to think that a seed with high B will cope with boron toxic soils. This is certainly the case when the boron is lower down in the profile, as the plant goes hunting for boron, trying to accumulate it, and then when it reaches it, it hyper accumulates, causing the concentration to become toxic.

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