The State of Iowa is one of the nation’s premier agricultural and agronomic institutions; thus, it is home to the largest public seed testing facility in the world.
The Iowa State Seed Science Center was founded in 1974; the building is designed to serve students, guests and faculty interested in seed science. It has many elements, such as international programs to make quality seeds more accessible, study programs for undergraduates, and seed testing laboratories for public use.
The international component is a powerful aspect of this program, according to the co-director of the national seed health system, Gary Munkvold.
“We have programs operating in countries around the world… Primarily designed to help strengthen their seed infrastructure to improve access to quality seeds for farmers,” Munkvold said. “So this is one of the goals that we share with many people involved in international development … 80% of farmers in developing countries do not have access to quality seeds, they save their own seeds and there is has some drawbacks to that, but they don’t get the crops they might get. ”
Seed quality is important in underdeveloped countries because it allows them to get better crops and helps improve yields. The university sets up collaborative efforts with individuals and groups in other countries to gain knowledge about the types of projects they should undertake. These could include, but are not limited to, seed testing, seed pathology, seed trading, or even the establishment of new seed testing facilities.
Along with these great programs, the Iowa Seed Science Center also offers a graduate program.
“This is an online graduate program, which you know we did before COVID,” Munkvold said.
Being online makes it easy for people with a bachelor’s degree to earn a graduate degree while working full time. Lifelong learners can use this program to add sophisticated knowledge of seed science to their professional identity.
Being online makes it easy for people with a bachelor’s degree to earn a graduate degree while working full time. This is a great program for lifelong learners to gain more experience in the field of seed science.
The state of Iowa also has programs to help accredit companies working with seeds to do their own pre-shipment testing.
“One of the programs that we’re a little proud of here, again, it’s designed to help the industry run more efficiently, is a program called the National Seed Health System,” Munkvold said. “So we have a strange contradiction, we have a lab here and we test lab seeds for seed companies, but we also run this program where they can be accredited to do their own testing and thus get their phytosanitary certification. “