Seed testing services in Canada are sold for about one-tenth of what they’re sold for in other parts of the world. Today in Canada, the typical cost to the customer is $50.
Different markets place different value on seed testing for a variety of reasons. In Canada, seed testing is a requirement for seed to be certified, so it is often taken for granted and not given too much thought. I also talk to people who don’t test their seed because they don’t know what an important weapon testing can be in their arsenal.
Thankfully, there are ways we can communicate how truly valuable seed testing really is. Some of these include taking part in your regional seed association, staying in touch with peers, and connecting with your community as an industry representative.
A big one is by explaining how the seed lab system works, by opening the doors of our seed labs to clients and potential clients. A lab visit can make all the difference and help people see seed testing for what it is — an important, highly scientific service that serves a hugely important purpose.
When they visit us, clients are surprised to see controlled chambers monitored with data loggers. I explain that we are required to keep files needed by the four regulatory bodies that come in and inspect seed testing labs regularly. Not a year goes by that we don’t have to undergo an audit of some kind. It’s important for the client to know their results are meaningful, and backed by these processes.
This invariably leads to questions about the seed testing process, and why it’s so meticulous. I find it hugely helpful to emphasize that seed is a living organism, unlike a typical commodity.
This makes them think about it in a different light. When they really think about the fact they’re dealing with something that’s alive, it changes their perspective. Their livelihood depends on something that’s alive and must be cared for.
Inviting people into your lab also gives you a chance to introduce them to your seed analysts, and see what an analyst does. Analysts themselves have a lot to do with how seed testing is viewed by the public. See my next column for how we as analysts literally put a face on our industry and influence the direction it’s headed in.