New Guide: African Soybean Seed-borne Diseases & Pests
The Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) developed a new Guide to African Soybean Seed-borne Diseases and Pests for use by African seed companies, seed multipliers, research institutions, and soybean processors whose operations demand high-quality seed. Identifying the causes of decreased seed health, which translates to poor germination, low yields, and decreased profitability, is key to building a successful soybean industry in Africa.
The newly-released guide provides guidance on visual seed rating, basic and advanced germination tests, and bacterial and microbe identification to ensure good seed viability and vigor.
SIL works with partners in 22 African countries to provide training on the importance of adequate seed health for improved production and profitability. Evaluating seed from 33 locations across 6 countries, SIL found on average that 47% of seed harvested was infected with either bacteria or fungi; and on average, 22% of sampled seed had visible symptoms of pathogen infection, pest feeding, or mechanical damage. For a seed lot to be considered acceptable quality, it has to have a germination rate of over 80%, ideally above 90%, and less than 10% damaged or discolored seed.
Poor germination and seed quality affects the African soybean value chain from the smallholder producer level to commercial-scale production to research institutions and seed companies. At the smallholder level, most farmers use saved seed and improper storage — leading to mold and pest issues and poor germination. SIL's SMART Farm trials across Africa have shown that, by using a basic bundle of certified seed and good management practices, farmers can double and triple yields while also increasing profits by 4 times.
Dr. Glen Hartman, plant pathologist for USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and Dr. Michelle Pawlowski, research specialist with the Soybean Innovation Lab, co-authored the guide to provide a needed training and identification tool for partners operating across the soybean value chain in Africa.
You can read more about the new guide in our newsletter.