Agriculture accounts for 54.6% of total employment in India and contributes 15.2% of total GDP. Livestock occupies a crucial position in Indian agriculture and directly contributing 27% of agricultural GDP. India, with 2.29% of the world land area, is maintaining about 10.71% of world’s livestock population. The number of milch animals have increased from 62 million in 2000 to 83.15 million in 2012 resulting in 4.04% year-on-year growth rate of milk. Thus, to sustain this growth rate and for further expansion to meet the demands of ever growing human population, livestock needs sustainable supply of feed material. The area under fodder cultivation is estimated to be about 4% of the gross cropped area which remained static for the last four decades. The traditional grazing lands are gradually diminishing because of urbanization, expansion of cultivable area, grazing pressure and industrialization etc. These factors resulted in severe shortage of feed and fodder to the extent of 26% in dry-crop residues, 35.6% in green fodder and 41% of concentrates. To reduce the demand and supply gap, the production and productivity of fodder crops needs to be enhanced. The horizontal expansion of cultivable area under fodder crops is difficult due to severe competition from food crops. Apart from vertical expansion, utilization of non-cultivable areas for pastures is one of the most viable options to balance the demand. For wide spread regeneration of marginal and uncultivable lands, seed is the best propagating material. One of the reasons reported to stumble the green fodder production is non-availability of quality seed in sufficient quantities. As per an estimation only 25-30% of required quantity of quality seed is available in cultivated fodders and <10% in range grasses and legumes in India.

Seed is the basic material for successful agricultural production. Quality seed is one of the tools for enhancing productivity. As per an estimate, all other factors being remaining same, the use of quality seed of high yielding varieties increases the crop yield by 15-20%. Seed quality is adjudged based on the recommended standards decided by the Government of India in the form of Indian Minimum Seed Certification Standards (published by The Central Seed Certification Board, Ministry of Agriculture., GOI). The seed standards were developed based on scientific study on seed quality and production parameters of several lots collected from different locations spread over the country. Only after meeting these quality standards, seed can be sold in the market. Lack of sufficient quantity of quality seed paves the way for spurious seed in the market. The consumers need awareness regarding the quality parameters to avoid cheating by the seed sellers. The consumable portion of fodder crops is their vegetative parts. Hence, less emphasis was given on their seed and its quality. The fodder seed clientele viz. farmers and forest department/ veterinary department are less aware of fodder seed quality parameters. The present article deals with the quality standards of important fodder crops, both cultivated and range species, to create awareness among the stakeholders.

The seed standards comprises mainly three quality parameters viz., physical purity, germination and moisture content. Physical purity provides the information about the physical quality of seed. The percent pure seed indicates the quantity of seed of economic importance. The second parameter seed germination, is most essential criteria of a seed lot as it not only indicates the viability of seed but also impacts the plant stand in the field and thereby crop yield. The other quality parameter moisture determines the storability of seed. Standards prescribed for these three parameters needs to be fulfilled for all types of seed i.e. either breeder or foundation or certified or truthfully labelled seed. The standards for breeder seed were not mentioned as such as it was implied that seed quality standards of breeder seed should not be less than foundation seed. Similarly the truthfully labelled seed standards should be on par with certified seed standards. The seed standards vary from crop to crop based on their intrinsic factors as well as growing conditions. The seed standards of forage crops (Table 1) provides the minimum requirement in case of pure seed and germination percentages. However, for other parameters viz., inert matter, other crop seed, weed seed, other distinguishable varieties and moisture content the standards prescribes the maximum limits as these are unwanted characteristics of seed. Under essential commodities act, the seed inspectors of agriculture department are supposed to check the quality standards of the seed available in the market. Due to wide spread availability of seed stores and due to limited man power it is virtually impossible to check the entire seed sold in the market. Therefore, the consumers (farmers/ other users) themselves should be aware of these standards before buying seed. It is always better to purchase seed of recognized and reputed public / private companies/ organizations, as they will test the seed on their own or through certification process before marketing.

Table 1: Seed standards of forage crops for quality maintenance

Forage crop (Scientific Name)

Pure seed (%)

Inert matter (%)

Other crop seed (No./ Kg)

Total weed seed (No./kg)

Other Disting-uishable Varieties (No. /kg)

Germina-tion %

Moisture (%)

Moisture % for vapour proof

F

C

F

C

F

C

F

C

F

C

F

C

F

C

F

C

Cultivated crops

Berseem* (Trifolium alexandrinum)

98

98

2

2

10

20

10

20

-

-

80

80

10

10

7

7

Sorghum & Sudan grass# (Sorghum bicolor)

97

97

3

3

5

10

5

10

10

20

75

75

12

12

8

8

Cluster bean (Cyamopsis tetragonaloba)

98

98

2

2

10

20

None

None

10

20

70

70

9

9

8

8

Lucerne* (Medicago sativa)

98

98

2

2

10

20

10

20

-

-

80

80

10

10

7

7

Oat@ (Avena sativa)

98

98

2

2

10

20

10

20

10

20

85

85

12

12

8

8

Rice Bean (Vigna umbellate)

98

98

2

2

None

None

5

10

10

20

70

70

9

9

8

8

Indian Clover (Melilotus. Spp.)

98

98

2

2

10

20

10

20

10

20

65

65

10

10

7

7

Maize

(Zea mays)

98

98

2

2

5

10

None

None

10

20

90

90

12

12

8

8

Cowpea

(Vigna unguiculata)

98

98

2

2

None

10

None

10

5

10

75

75

9

9

8

8

Teosinte (Euchlaena Mexicana)

98

98

2

2

5

10

None

None

-

-

80

80

12

12

8

8

Buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris)

80

80

20

20

20

40

20

40

-

-

30

30

10

10

8

8

Birdwood grass (Cenchrus setigerus)

80

80

20

20

20

40

20

40

-

-

30

30

10

10

8

8

Dharaf Grass (Chrysopogon fulvus)

80

80

20

20

20

40

20

40

-

-

15

15

10

10

8

8

Dinanath grass (Pennisetum pedicellatum)

95

95

5

5

20

40

20

40

-

-

50

50

10

10

8

8

Guinea grass (Panicum maximum)

80

80

20

20

20

40

20

40

-

-

20

20

10

10

8

8

Marvel grass (Dichanthium annulatum)

90

90

10

10

10

20

10

20

10

20

40

40

10

10

8

8

Setaria grass (Setaria anceps)

95

95

5

5

20

40

20

40

-

-

50

50

10

10

8

8

Stylo (Stylosanthes. Spp.)

90

90

10

10

10

20

10

20

10

20

40

40

10

10

8

8

Source: Indian Minimum Seed Certification Standards

F: Foundation class; C: Certified class.

*Objectionable weed seed (Chichory in berseem and Cuscuta in lucerne): 5 No. /kg in Foundation class and 10 No. /kg in certified class

@ Objectionable weed seed (wild oat, Avena fatua): 2 No. /kg in Foundation class and 5 No. /kg in certified class

# Ergot (Claviceps spp.) sclerotia, seed entirely or partially modified as sclerotia, broken sclerotia or ergotted (Sphacelia sorghi Mc Rae &Claviceps spp.) seeds (maximum): 0.02% by number in Foundation class and o.04% by number in certified class.

Definitions of different terminology used in standards:

Pure seed: Pure seed is the seed of purchased crop/ variety or seed found predominant in the purchased material. The standards prescribe the minimum percentage of pure seed a lot should possess.

Other crop seed: The seed related to kinds of crops other than the kind being examined is called other crop seed

Weed seed: The remaining seed other than pure and other crop seed and of species normally recognized as weeds is considered as weed seed

Inert matter: All other matter apart from pure seed, other crop seed and weed seed are considered as inert matter. It includes sand/ soil, stones, pebbles, stem portions, broken seed of half or less than half the original size, sterile florets, empty glumes, lemma, palea, chaff, awns etc.

The other crop seed, weed seed and inert matter are negative parameters and standards prescribes the maximum permissible limit of these items in the given seed lot.

Other distinguishable varieties: These are seeds of varieties other than the purchased/ labelled one and can be clearly distinguished from the seeds of said variety. The standards prescribe the maximum number of such seeds per kg of seed material purchased.

Germination percentage: It is the quantity of seed that can produce normal seedlings which have the potential to grow into normal plants under suitable conditions. The standards for germination are on minimum side i.e. the seed should possess at least the given germination percentage but never less than that. It can have more germination than the standard.

Moisture %: It is amount of water present in the seed expressed on wet weight basis. In the standards the minimum moisture content of a seed is prescribed.

Moisture % for vapour proof: It is the prescribed minimum moisture that the seed should possess while storing in vapour proof containers like sealed polythene bags.


Authors:

D. Vijay*, A. Maity, C.K. Gupta and V. Wasnik

Division of Seed Technology, Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute

Gwalior Road, Jhansi – 284 003, U.P., India

*corresponding author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.