Seed science, technology and trade

Edição XIX | 06 - Nov . 2015

Silmar Teichert Peske - | Geri Eduardo Meneghello - | Francisco Amaral Villela -

    The Brazilian Association of Seed Technology (ABRATES), established in 1970, promoted in its 45th year of existence, the XIX Brazilian Seed Congress, held in the city of Foz do Iguaçu, last September. The event consisted of lectures, round tables, seminars, scientific posters and show-room technology, with more than 1,400 participants, including several countries from South America. The environment could be characterized as scientific, technological and commercial, where the seed business in the country exceeds two billion dollars per year. Many companies take advantage of the event to do bussiness.


    In terms of lectures, these were about the Brazilian agribusiness, with emphasis on soybean  and corn on the GURT technology (Genetic Use Restriction Tecnology), which has the potential to create male sterility for hybrid production, among other effects; the production chain of vegetables with tomatoes leading in importance; the use of Drones in seed production, with its versatility and precision; cooling seeds, emphasizing the combination of dynamic and static systems; detection, identification and quantification of GM seeds; cultivar identification via molecular features; and current status of the seed health quality worldwide. As can be seen, the talks addressed very important issues for various players in the seed chain.


1 - Traceability in production, quality control and seed marketing

    This process uses the computer, along with satellite navigation and scientific advances to enable the farmer to get various information about the seed that he is using, as a place of production, harvest season, time and storage conditions, vigor, among others. It is a process that professionalizes the seed producer, with marked benefits to the farmer, minimizing the use of seeds without origin.

2 - Actions against piracy seeds

    The seed business has a legal frame work that allows companies to invest in research and improvement of seed quality with the expectation of a financial return on their investment. However, there are situations where companies or farmers do not recognize the investments made by others to create and develop new and better cultivars. When this occurs, it is called seed piracy.

    The legal platform consists mainly of four laws, the production and trade, the plant variety protection, the biosafety and patent law. In Brazil, at present, almost 40% of the soybean seed used by farmers, to cite one example, does not recognize the work of breeders for the creation and development of new cultivars. In this sense, as a national deputy present  in the roundtable, it is already underway at the Congress, a proposition to minimize piracy.

UFPel delegation

3 - Advances in seed physiology 

    This roundtable basically was about forest seed species, addressing aspects of maturation for recalcitrant seeds and their storage potential, as well as adequate substrate and temperature  for the germination test. As for the dormancy, the emphasis was on methods to overcome.

4- Intellectual property and the setting of the seed industry

    Virtually all countries in the region have a law of plant protection based on the UPOV convention of 1978, except for Peru, which is in 1991 convention. The 1978 convention protects the technological innovations (new cultivars) to the seed, while the 1991 protects the new cultivars to the grain. Thus, in most countries, those who use their grain as seed do not pay royalty for those who created and developed a new cultivar, distorting the seed program of a country. As the percentage of those who use grain as seed is high, several countries in the region are under pressure from the breeders and seed producers programs to correct the situation.

    In the region, Uruguay, through a so-called Technological Value program, led by URUPOV, does collect more than 90% of the royalties for the use of seed of a protected plant variety. Paraguay, through a grand agreement among actors of the seed chain, does also collect royalties from protected varieties, the same occurring in Bolivia, with government support for implementation. On the other hand, in Brazil and Argentina, countries with a strong presence in agribusiness, intellectual protection on the establishment and development of new cultivars need to improve.

5 - Seed standards for marketing

    For soybeans, the minimum for germination is 80%, so a seed lot can have up to 20% of dead seeds or abnormal seedlings, and yet can be marketed. In this sense, the of farmers representation in the state of Mato Grosso sent to his state of Seed Commission (CSM-MT) a request to increase the minimum germination standard to 85%, which was accepted by the CSM-MT and forwarded to the MAPA (national) for possible approval.

    Thus, the MAPA sent to all states CSMs this requirement for consideration, and ABRATES took the opportunity to also discuss the issue during its seed congress. There is consensus that there were several technological innovations in recent years, enabling the achievement and maintenance of high quality in quantity of soybean seeds, citing as an example the time to harvest, control of insects and diseases, more appropriate harvesters, care with mechanical damage, dynamic and static cooling and industrial treatment.

    According to data obtained with a number of seed companies, the percentage of seed lots in the range of 80-84 germination percentage is less than 10%, which can be reduced with greater adoption of technological innovations. Thus, at first, the increase of the standard will mean a loss of up to 10% in seed lots; however, with the use of technological advances, this percentage will be minimized, as has occurred with other standards such as red rice in the RS state, which was 15 seeds / 700 g some years ago and is currently ZERO.

    The elevation of the standard means that more high-quality seeds will be used by farmers, and thus greater productivity will be obtained. There are several scientific papers, ratified on a commercial level. In the sense,  a lot of high quality can produce more than 15% of what a low one and this with the same field stand. However, as seed lots of low vigor tend to have higher number of failures and doubles the gain in productivity by the use of high quality soybean seeds can easily reach over 20%.

    The state seed producers from Mato Grosso, associated with Aprosmat decided that they will offer only soybean seed lots with minimum germination of 85%, while some individual companies guarantee minimum germination even with 95%, and other guarantee obtaining an adequate field stand, which can only be obtained with lots of high quality seeds. In this respect, the Seed Foundation Organization is offering a service, certifying seed lots with a minimum of 90% germination and vigor by the accelerated aging test of 80%, which will be called PREMIUM seed.

    MAPA, in its manifestation on the subject, stressed that every seed producer can offer seed lot with a minimum standard that he desires, considering that he will be accounted for, if a complain occurs.

Posters presentation

6 - Production of seed expansion crops

    Among the crops in expansion, it was highlighted crotalaria and millet as for forage and soil protection, and cowpea for human consumption. These three crops have strong plant breeding programs and seed production. The crotalaria has public and private breeding programs, while  millet improvement is led by the private sector for many years; while cowpea is led by the public sector.


    The research papers were presented as posters during the event, with a number of 1,120 papers distributed among eight themes, namely:

1 - production, maturation and harvesting - the subject had 136 papers, mainly addressing  field deteriorating, the uniformity of maturation, physiological maturation and evaluation methodology;

2 - Post-Harvesting - The works of this theme were mostly about drying and seed storage. In drying, it was stressed drying air temperature that the seeds of many species can withstand while in storage the emphasis was on implementation of dynamic and static cooling to maintain the seed physiological quality;

3 - Morphology and molecular biology - Being a relatively new topic on the seed area, had only 37 papers, many of them relating seed physiological attributes with molecular markers;

4 - Viability - Here come the works of germination and dormancy. Related to germination, many papers were with species whose assessment methodology is not yet in the seed analysis rules, such as forest and many tropical forages. As for dormancy, the emphasis was on methods for overcoming and its causes;

Seed Piraty round table

5 - Vigor - In this seed quality attribute, the emphasis was on evaluation methodologies, especially in accelerated aging, electrical conductivity and the tetrazolium. Were also conducted work  relating seed vigor with yield in several species, confirming its close relationship, where high vigor seeds provide plants with greater production;

6 - forest species - This theme was that with more papers, with 268 participants. This demonstrates the importance that the seeds have for the sustainability of our forests;

7 - forage species - Scientific advances in science for forage seed  have been appreciable, since Brazil has evolved from the status of a country importing seeds for an exporting country, that due to the adoption of technical and scientific advances. The 52 papers presented showed the interest of the industry in the production of high quality seeds;

José de Barros França Neto (President Abrates 2013/2015) congratulated by Francisco Carlos  Krzyzanowski (President Abrates 2015 /2017)

8 - Pathology - The  seed is a good vehicle for the spread of diseases, an healthy seed is essential for obtaining high yields. In this theme, the emphasis was on evaluation methods.


    There were three symposiums developed during the event: the XII Brazilian Symposium of Seed Pathology, the II Brazilian Symposium on Forage Species and VII Brazilian Symposium on Forest Seed Technology.

    The Forage Seed symposium emphasized the fight against piracy seeds and the minimum purity standard for brachiaria seeds. The forage seed business exceeds one hundred million dollars per year; however, it is largely informal. Moreover, there is a tradition in the country of marketing the seeds with very low purity, currently being less than 80%, while the seed for export is with a minimum of  98%.

    The traditional Seed Pathology symposium emphasized the pathology in vegetable seeds, which are largely imported. The symposium is coordinated by the Seed Pathology Committee of ABRATES, which has among its objectives to stipulated health standards for seed marketing.

    The emphasis of Forest Seeds symposium was on seed production systems in legal reserve areas to collect seeds. ABRATES also has a committee of forest seeds.

Show room view

Research Institutions

    Brazil in its national seed plan, in early 1970, placed as one of its subprojects research on seeds, and today, 45 years after, it appears that the shares have been very well implemented, both the number of papers presented at the congress - 1,120 - as researchers, adding up 2,520, and research institutions with 142. These indicators are the basis for the great advances made in seed science and technology, enabling to offer seeds in quality and quantity to the farmer and even enabling export growth, which has exceeded hundreds of millions dollars annually.

    The distribution of research papers by institution is somewhat concentrated, with 13 of them had at least 20 papers. The presentation ranged from 96 studies, by researchers linked to UFLA and 21 linked to UTFPR. The UFLA stands out for its work with forest seeds and pathology area, while UFPel, second place, with 68 papers presented, stands out for work in field crops seeds. Thus, each institution has demonstrated its strength through research activities that leverage the seed system in the country, whose main beneficiary is the society.

Technology Showroom

    The Brazilian seed business exceeds two billion dollars per year, and many companies are directly involved, such as machinery and equipment for drying, cleaning and seed storage, equipment and materials for seed analysis laboratory, packaging and protection products and seed performance. These companies take advantage of the event to promote their products and services, providing a professional and very competitive environment. This year, more than 40 companies participated in the technology showroom.

Abrates officials for 2015/2017

New Board

    Usually ABRATES elects its board, during the course of the congress, and this year elected, by acclamation, dr. Francisco Carlos Krzyzanowski, and with its 1st vice-president Fernando Henning, and as 2nd vice president Laene Maria de Carvalho.

    ABRATES promotes the realization of the congress every two years, publishing also the Journal of Seed Technology and performs, in partnership with several universities, specific courses in seeds. In terms of the relationship, the entity is part of ABRASEM, is connected to the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) and the American Official Seed Testing Association (AOSA). It is a proactive organization with great inclusion in the national and international seed scenario. SEEDnews congratulates the leaders and members of the entity.

Odete H. T. Liberal first ABRATES president receiving a gift from José de Barros França Neto



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