LETI: LETI Researchers Developed a Method to Detect Defects in Vegetable Seeds Using X-ray Imaging

A pressing problem of vegetable production is the quality of sown seeds. In this regard, assessment of seed quality before sowing and storage is of great practical interest. The modern level of research requires automated instrumental methods of seed quality evaluation, allowing to obtain more information in a shorter time.

One of the most important vegetable crops in Russia is cabbage. Today, it accounts for a quarter of the vegetable ration of the Russian population. Cabbage also occupies more than 20% of the sown areas of vegetables in the country, and the need for white cabbage seeds is more than 50 tons annually. Therefore, the seed market is significant, and both Russian and international companies compete in it.

“We adapted the previously developed methodology for detecting latent defects in cereal seeds for vegetable seeds. In particular, in this study, we worked with seeds of cabbage of different species. We revealed and identified defects of seeds affecting their economic value. Now, we hope that this methodology will lead to improvement of product quality of cabbage seed suppliers in Russia”.

Nikolai Potrakhov, Head of the Department of Electronic Instruments and Devices at LETI
The research was carried out using a mobile unit for digital radiography of seeds developed by scientists of the department and engineers of ELTEH-Med company. It consists of a shielded chamber, radiation source, digital image receiver, and positioning device for the object. Besides, the unit uses software that automatically detects and classifies seed defects.

The new method for the unit required the development of the scheme of cabbage seed shooting, selection of optimal modes of work, ensuring image sharpness, and adaptation of some other parameters. The technology to detect latent defects was successfully tested on eight samples of cabbage seeds of different origins. The batch of seeds was provided by the Federal Scientific Center of Vegetable Industry (Moscow), whose staff also participated in the study. Its results were published in the Horticulturae journal.

“The seed radiography method compares favorably with its counterparts in ease of use, speed, and accuracy. At the same time, the technology does not damage the seeds. Our development allows efficient selection of seed products, which allows us to sow fewer “bad” seeds and guarantee a good harvest for agricultural enterprises,” adds Sergey Beletsky, the co-author of the article, Director of the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Confectionery Industry.

Development of methods to detect hidden defects in vegetable crops seeds is an important part of a large project of the Department of Electronic Instruments and Devices of LETI in the field of creating systems (devices, software, and methods of use) of express seed diagnostics to improve the quality and productivity of crop production. In the long term, LETI researchers and various research organizations plan to create methods for detecting defects in seed material for all economically important crops.