INSIDERS Seed Health & Testing Seed Analysts are Helping Guide our Future

Seed Analysts are Helping Guide our Future


As I write this, I am taking a brief break from crop inspecting. It’s hard work physically, but in many ways has become easier thanks to the advent of technology, its incorporation into the seed industry, and our increasing ability to work together.

Years ago, as we all remember, crop inspecting was done by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Alternative service delivery (ASD) changed all that. Even after we made the switch, inspection reports were done on paper and submitted that way, making for turnaround times of days or weeks. Now, because of new technologies we’ve implemented (thanks in no small part to Doug Miller at the Canadian Seed Growers Association), our reports are filled out electronically in the field and submitted over the internet.

It’s made all the difference. The process is now very intuitive and results are virtually instantaneous.

These changes are a reflection of the revolution I see coming with Seeds Canada, our proposed single national seed organization (NSO). With seed analysts having a seat at the table as part of the proposed NSO, the opportunities to further innovate and change how we work cannot be understated.

From a seed analyst’s perspective, I’m pleased to see Chantal Lecavalier as the new president of CSAAC. She’s the perfect person to be taking us into this new era and is the ideal voice for seed analysts at this moment.

For seed analysts to be around the table with every other sector of our industry is very exciting. We will be sitting at that table with people who are essentially already our clients, and they rely on seed analysts to provide key information on the quality and health of the seed that fuels their businesses.

Those very people represent a bigger talent pool to draw from. As I’ve been involved in CSAAC over the years — including a stint as president — I’ve learned how hard it is to find volunteer help. Seeds Canada will broaden the expertise at both the national and regional level and — even if it remains hard to find people to step up to the plate and give of their time — there will be more of us putting our heads together to solve our collective issues.

All of the above results in a stronger, more united voice. It’s a win-win and I look forward to voting to become a part of it.

Sarah Foster
Sarah Foster
President and Senior Seed Analyst, 20/20 Seed Labs - Sarah Foster is a registered seed technologist, senior seed analyst and president of 20/20 Seed Labs — a company she started in 1989 that provides testing services for all crop kinds, including extensive quality and seed health analysis, molecular testing and accredited crop inspection. Involved in the seed industry since the late 1970s, Foster studied and qualified as an accredited seed analyst at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany in Cambridge, England. Her work experience includes seven years with Sharps Seed International (Advanta) in the United Kingdom, and five years with the United Grain Growers in Edmonton after immigrating to Canada in 1984.