For more information, see the First Quarter issue of Seed Today.

In this ever-changing world that we live in, seed is growing more important. Maintaining the supply, the varietal purity, and the quality of the seed we use is paramount to many of the endeavors we participate in and rely on.

We can see the importance in the efforts that go into securing seed and making sure it is available for use in varietal development, food production, and non-food production.

Since the beginning of my career in 1995, seed and seed science has grown and expanded phenomenally.

The varietal development and the applications of those varieties in things such as precision planting, counteracting insect resistance, herbicide resistance, etc. increases the value of the seed both practically and monetarily.

I see no indication that this will change as the world is becoming hungrier and currently appears less stable.

One can see various countries moving to secure seed supplies and to protect intellectual property rights that drive innovations.

Trusting The Results of Seed Testing

All of this means that the testing of seed and the accuracy of those results are even more important, both to the consumer and to the seed industry.

The consumers need to be able to trust the seed label so that they can make informed purchases.

The seed industry needs precise results to make the best management decisions possible. Not having accurate results will lead to interruptions in the movement and marketing of seed, and potentially could be costly to consumers and producers.

This also means that those who do the analytical seed testing (Certified Seed Analysts, Registered Seed Technologist, Registered Genetic Technologist) are becoming more important.

Yet, at the same time while the importance of seed testing is rising, the workforce is changing/declining. People are looking to advance quickly and are more open to changing jobs and moving to new locations.

With the cost of living rising, we will need to be proactive in finding novel and meaningful ways to retain employees and to provide commensurate compensation.

Seed testing is an occupation that builds on experience.

Seeds and seedlings are the result of biological varied growth. They are not the product of mechanical assembly lines.

Training Analysts/Technologists

When I first began my career in seed testing, my supervisor told me it takes ten years to train a fully competent analyst/technologist.

That is, it takes ten years for someone working with multiple species to build up enough experience/knowledge to be able to do their work accurately, easily, and efficiently, and to become able to train new employees – in other words a LOT of work goes into this (not to mention the certification exams required to achieve these titles).

Now this may not be the case for every analyst/technologist or seed testing lab, but the point is, “book smarts” are not the totality of seed testing and time and practice are necessary.

As AOSA-SCST faces this challenge of finding, training, and retaining new people for seed testing, we would appreciate a concerted effort from all sectors of the seed industry to promote and encourage seed testing as a career to increase the pool of potential employees.

If we do this, I believe we all will benefit.

AOSA and SCST are organizations of analysts/technologists.

All the work that goes into improving uniformity in seed testing, advancing the AOSA Rules for Testing Seeds, evaluating new technologies, administering proficiency tests, etc. is done by analysts/technologists.

Many times, they do this work in addition to their normal duties. If the opportunity should arise, I encourage you to take a moment and express affirmation/thanks for the work that analysts/technologists do.

I hope we see you at our annual meeting June 1-6, 2024, in Rapid City, SD.

For more information about AOSA-SCST and our annual meeting visit

Written by Johnny Zook, CSA, President, AOSA, |