We live in a time where change is constant. Agriculture is one of the most important sectors on the planet, and with that comes pressure to stay on top of seed testing and related technology.
When you consider the development of new varieties that can require specialized testing, the identification and understanding of new diseases which pose significant and economic threats to seed production — not to forget the ever-changing weather patterns that complicate seed quality — it’s a marvel that seed analysts have kept up with this pace.
The work seed analysts do is incredibly important. It’s one of the most important disciplines in the industry. People are often surprised to learn there’s no formal training program in Canada to become a seed analyst. Seed analysts primarily learn their trade on the job. Seed testing has really been left to its own devices, and this is a concern for the future of the industry itself.
I believe that because technology has become hugely important, in some instances it is replacing the human element, unfortunately. This fact alone does not help our cause for establishing a training facility. Regardless, we will need to continue to train and mentor highly skilled analysts, particularly now as we go into a future that is becoming more demanding on the knowledge of an analyst.
Machines will not replace the skill and dexterity needed to distinguish between the minute details that can make the difference between good- and poor-quality seed.
I am encouraged by the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project and the idea that the six seed sector organizations are committed to maintaining a viable seed system in Canada. The work done by organizations like the Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC) is hugely valuable, and I hope that their members are mindful of who is teaching our people to do things. There’s no substitute for formal training, and that’s why we need a formal training facility or program for Canadian seed analysts.
I would like to set the wheels in motion — let’s make things better for our next generation of seed analysts with new incentives to keep our important industry vital. I am always open to ideas and happy to discuss my thoughts.