Seed science and technology involves several disciplines such as plant production, agronomy, plant physiology, plant science, entomology and plant pathology.The seed is the most important and essential starting point for a healthy plant. If a seed is not viable a seedling will not emerge. If a seed has low vigour a weak seedling will emerge which in turn may either succumb to environmental conditions or attack by pathogens or insects. It is therefore of the outmost importance to look at the seed to make sure that it is viable and will give rise to vigorous seedlings able to withstand unfavourable environmental conditions and pests.
Correct sampling of a seed lot is essential before any tests can be done on the seed lot. The purity, both physical and genetic, must be determined before testing. All seed should be tested for viability, that is, the germination percentage must be determined and recorded on the seed lot. Furthermore, the vigour of the seed can also be determined using a range of tests. Seed health testing is also of great importance to prevent new pathogens from entering and establishing in the country and to prevent diseases occurring in the field due to seed-borne inoculum. These three aspects are discussed further as they are performed routinely in FABI in the Govender Seed Laboratory.