INSIDERS Virtual Lab Tour Part 3: Why Purity is the First Step in...

Virtual Lab Tour Part 3: Why Purity is the First Step in Seed Quality


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.

We continue our virtual tour of how an ISTA-accredited lab functions! If you haven’t viewed them yet, watch Part 1 and Part 2.

Purity testing has been established to ensure the seed lot is clean. In fact purity is the first step in seed quality.

In this video, the seed analyst takes a thoroughly mixed sample of a known quantity according to the rules for the country of origin.

The seed analyst pours the seed — in this case creeping red fescue — on to a clean glass purity slab and searches through the seed. We are interested in weeds, other crops and inert matter to establish the purity of the sample.

The contaminants are separated and weighed. Once the sample is complete it is placed back into the seed envelope for further testing and sample archiving.