Organic seed production-Issues and strategies

L Meghachandra Singh
The first International Conference on Organic Seeds, Rome, 2004 concluded with the flowing recommendations:
1. Networking to provide training, workshops and materials to integrate seed production in ecological whole-farm systems.
2. Establishment of demonstration seed for school and community food gardens with seed saving and activities.
3 Enhance, biodiversity of land races of food crops through seed banks seed exchange and farmers’ seed crops, and on-farm biodiversity ofnativeplant habitats for beneficial insect pollinators and predators of insect pest.
4. Support participatory on-farm breeding to select and improve native, locally adapted varieties for desirable traits, such as resistance to local disease and pest, flavour and nutrition.
5. Collect, document and share indigenousknowledge of organic seed treatments.
6. Disseminate activities in an annual conference and on a linked website.
Organic culture is not new to mankind. Some cultural practices have already been reported by different authorities for organic seed production but full proof  specific packages for different varieties/crops need to be standardized for the region, incorporating all the available indigenoustechnologies/practices as well as information. In the north east context, it requires to properly identify and assess which crops are to be prioritized for organic production and for which purpose (based on demand groups: whether for local market or for export). For the local markets there may not be very strict requirements as per IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Farming), and conventional or traditional seeds and planting materials could be used. But in those commodities, which we want to export particularly low volume high value commodities, organic production has to be strictly as per requirements of IFOAM and the seeds to be used could also have to be organically certified. Thus, development of organic varieties (which requires less Organic Rice Seed Production
Soil type
Alluvial Soil, Sandy clay and Clayey soil types are suitable for paddy cultivation
Seed Rate
The quantities of organic rice seeds required for one hectare of land under different situations are as given below.
· Short duration variety (90-110 days) transplanted -60-70 kg
· Medium duration variety (110-125 days) transplanted -40-60 kg
· Long duration variety (above 125 days) transplanted -30-40 kg
· Dry and rain  fed sowing -90-100 kg
Seed Treatment
· Separation of good quality seeds: Unviable/unfilled seeds can be separated by floating the seeds in water. Salt or eggs may be used to increase the water density. This could be avoided if Certified seed is used.
· Seed treatment with Pseudomonas: 750g of pseudomonas can be mixed with one litre of cooled rice gruel. The sprouted seeds are spread on a cemented floor. Pseudomonas extract can be sprinkled over the sprouted seeds and mixed well.
Preparation of Nursery
Nursery area of 700-800 sq.m is required for cultivating in one hectare of land. The land should be ploughed 6-8 times and neem leaves/Artemesia/Vitex should be applied as basal manure. For high yielding varieties, 2.5 kg of neem cake should be applied for as basal manure. For high yielding varieties, 2.5 kg of neem cake should be applied per cent of nursery. Then, the sprouted seeds should be strewn in the nursery. 45-50 kg of gypsum should be applied to the nursery before uprooting the seedlings to avoid any damage caused to the roots.
Preparation of Main Field
Green manure seeds should be sown on the main field. The green manure plants should be ploughed into the soil when they are 45-60 days old. The main field should be ploughed well for 6-8 times and leveled.
Basal Manure
i) Farmyard manure : 12-15 tonnes/ha
ii) Poultry waste : 5 tonnes/ha
iii) Vermicompost : 5 tonnes/ha
Anyone of the above mentioned manure should be applied during the last ploughing.
iv) 100-120 kg of neem cake should be applied as a basal manure.
v) 10% Amirthakaraisal should be sprayed before transplanting. Otherwise for 1ha of land, 800-1200 litres of Amirthakaraisal should be mixed with water and irrigated
Application of Biofertilizers
5 kg of Azospirillum or 5 kg of phosphobacteria should be mixed with 75 kg of sand or compost and strewn on the field.
· 1-3 seedlings should be planted per hill.
Short duration variety : 5 x 10 cm
Medium duration variety : 20 x 10 cm
Long duration variety : 20 x 15 cm
Growing of Azolla or Blue Green Algae
Azolla or Blue Green Algae should be strewn on the field 5-10 days after transplanting. After 25 days and 45-50 days of strewing, the field should be drained and the algae should be stamped into the soil.
Top Dressing
After weeding, 25 kg of neem cake or groundnut cake should be applied as top dressing 120-150 kg of vermicompost or 120 kg of bone meal can be applied as top dressing. For medium and long duration varieties, 75 kg of groundnut cake should be applied as top dressing after 50-60 days after transplanting.
Spraying of Panchakavya
For coarse varieties, one spray of 3% panchakavya should be given during tillering and booting stage. For fine varieties, one spray of 3% panchakavya should be given during the booting stage.
Pest and Disease Management
Proper management measures should be taken for specific pest and disease attacks.
Keeping Neem cake bags in Irrigation Canals
Neem cake bags can be placed in the irrigation canal. This should be kept until the crop attains the milky stage.
Placing BirdPerches
Once the crop develops a dark green colour, about 25-27 bird perches should be placed per ha of the field. The bird perch should be 2-3 feet above the level of the crop. The perches should be removed once the crop attains the tillering stage.
Tying of Trichogramma Cards
The egg card of the parasitoid Trichogramma japonicum should be tied to the crop from the 25th day after transplanting. This should be done thrice at 15 days interval (ie. On 25th, 40th and 55th day).
Using Pheromone Traps
The male adult moths of yellow stem borer can be attracted and trapped using pheromone traps. About 3 pheromone traps should be placed in one acre of the field. This trap should be 2 ft above the crop level.
Using Light Traps
Once the crop develops a dark green colour, about 8 light traps should be placed in one acre of the field. The light trap should be 2-3 feet above the level of the crop.
Water Management
Paddy crop requires continuous irrigation. At least one-inch level of water should stagnate in the field.
The grains should be harvested once they turn yellow.
Storage of organic seeds
Besides the organic ways of seed production, the seeds need to be properly stored and handled only organically without any chemical treatments or fumigants. Proper drying below 12% moisture before and during storage, treatments with locally available  botanicals like Artemesia, Vitex fumigants of combined Goniothalamus and Plectranthus are found useful. If neem products are available, seeds can be mixed with neem seed kernel/leaf powders before storage. Time to time inspection drying, cleaning etc. are to be carried out regularly during storage.
In general, the production packages of organic seeds in many crops, though are yet to be established (except in few crops), could be almost similar with that of conventional seeds, except, the restriction in usage of inorganic chemicals (fertilizers/pesticides), GM seeds, hybrids with male sterility. Of this, plant protection is the most crucial component in quality seed production.