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the ultimate priming solution scaling up seed storability length

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - VITASEED (the ultimate priming solution scaling up seed storability length)

Reporting period: 2017-11-01 to 2018-10-31

Nelson Garden’s ecological VITASEED method is the first and only priming method that allows for long-term storage of primed seeds. Seeds that have been treated by seed vitalisation will have all the traditional benefits of priming such as faster and more uniform germination, higher rate of germination and stronger seedlings, which altogether helps to increase the yield. In addition, the method not only improves the vigour and germination capacity of the seed in the short term, but it also permits the seed to keep the enhanced properties over time.

This is a sharp contrast to current methods of seed priming where the seeds mostly have to be used within the same season. The extended shelf-life, paired with the methods’ remarkable cost, resource, and time-effectiveness, will make it possible to apply seed priming techniques to a much wider range of species and varieties than what is possible today. Nelson Garden’s vitalization method can therefore significantly move the borders of what can be achieved with seed priming and for how long.

The market introduction of this unique and patented seed priming technique can increase from one side the profitability of both growers and the seed industry across Europe, while from the other is meeting the exigencies of an overcrowded urbanized world, constantly looking for weather resistant solutions allowing to grow more on smaller areas. In fact, the most critical challenge of the European agricultural sector today is to keep up production and productivity to ensure food security, while at the same time shifting agriculture onto a more sustainable and resource-efficient growth trajectory. VITASEED will help European agriculture respond to these
challenges by providing: a) a commercially affordable solution b) reducing chemicals and pests application throughout the whole vitalization chain and c)boosting the organic sector.

The objective of the VITASEED project is to demonstrate a scaled-up, fully validated seed vitalization method to be immediately introduced on the European vegetable seed market by the end of the project.
By own research means and with the support of national funding for innovation, Nelson Garden has developed a protocol for low volumes of seeds that is now being demonstrated on a smaller scale in cooperation with selected European customers. Current TRL is 7.

In this project, Nelson Garden has scaled up the method to cope with higher volumes and demonstrated it on 10-12 different species of vegetables, in order to prepare for a market introduction across Europe and rest of the world.
The seed industry has developed a number of seed priming techniques that improve seed quality (including germination speed, germination capacity and potential to produce vigorous plants). However, these methods are associated with several problems.

First of all, they are costly, time-consuming and have a relatively low capacity in terms of volumes. Their use is therefore largely restricted to high-value crops, such as certain varieties of vegetable seeds, some flower seeds and single field crops, which are produced and primed in lower volumes. In current practices, it is not profitable to prime seeds of lower value that are sold in large volumes. But the biggest limitation of the methods is that the traditional priming also deteriorates the long-term quality of the seeds by reducing their lifetime, making it impossible to store primed seeds over a longer period of time, such as to the next season. All these factors deter the seed companies from investing in primed seeds they may not be able to sell, and therefore currently holds back the practice of priming, both in terms of volumes treated and the number of species and varieties primed. To fully exploit the market potential of priming techniques there is a great need for a method that allows for a higher storability of the primed seeds which is cost-efficient enough to be used on a large set of species and varieties. This is the market niche that Nelson Garden has identified and is aiming to fill with this project.

Nelson Garden’s seed vitalization method, a sustainable, innovative and ecological technology, presents a unique way to overcome the above-mentioned challenges, and to contribute to the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of methods to improve seed quality. Up to now, the market potential of seed priming has been hampered by the poor storability of the treated seeds, and by the costs, time and capacity involved in the treatment process. Commercial priming is therefore currently only being applied to selected high-value species and varieties. Nelson Garden’s innovative, fully ecological method provides all the traditional benefits of priming in terms of seed vigour, faster and more homogenous germination and viability. It also maintains and extends the storability of the primed seeds over a long time.

By increasing the storability of treated seeds, Nelson Garden’s innovative seed vitalization method will reduce the seasonal dependence of seed priming and unleash the full market potential of these techniques. The improved shelf-life of the seeds in combination with the cost-effectiveness of the method will make the benefits of priming available and affordable to use on a much wider range of species, including varieties from low-value and high-volume segments, as well as the organic sector.

The seed vitalization method therefore greatly pushes the limits for which seeds are possible to treat with priming, opening up completely new markets for species and varieties of seeds that are out of reach for current methods. What ultimately will make the business innovation project a success is that both Nelson Garden’s key customers among seed companies and seed priming companies and also the growers will be able to cut their costs and increase their productivity by the use of the seed vitalisation method. The outcome of the project will therefore bring economic benefits to Nelson Garden and throughout the whole value-chain.
Tomato seedlings - untreated seed and Optigrow seed