Indian Institute of Technology-Hyderabad (IIT-H) researchers have developed a neem oil encapsulated electrospun polyurethane nanofibrous bags for seed storage. The real-time storage experiment carried out for 75 days infers that 90 percent of seeds stored in nanofibrous bags were uninfected whereas 70 percent of seeds in commercial bags found to be infected with storage fungi.
Post-harvesting, proper storage of seeds is necessary to preserve the active germplasm of crops for longer periods without compromising their viability and germination ability. There are numerous factors needed to be considered while storing the seeds either as a food source or as seeds for next season.
The most important factors are a type of storage structure, temperature condition, and moisture content which can provoke insects, rodents, and fungal manifestation depending upon the nature of seeds. The indigenous seed storage practices utilize various kinds of structures to store the grains such as ropes and bamboo baskets, mud and earthen pots, wooden structures, brick structures, underground pits, gunny bags, polypropylene bags, and others.
Additionally, various natural pest control measures are practiced by farmers such as dressing the seeds with oil or cow dung ash or wood ash and then spreading the leaves of peach, neem, turmeric, lemon, bakayan, walnut, and others. In modern storage practices, chemical fumigants and insecticides such as Methyl Bromide, Phosphine, Phostoxins, and Actellic Super are used to control the microbial invasion.
Despite all these measures, there are significant seed storage losses wasting nearly 1.3 billion food grains every year across the world which can actually satisfy the food hunger of a large population worldwide. These losses not only badly affect the farmer’s livelihood and imposes pressure on the search of other food resources, but also affect the economy of any country. However, there has not been an as-desired focus on preventing post-harvest losses incurred by improper storage.
The search for an effective and alternative storage system is therefore a need of an hour in controlling post-harvest seed storage losses, especially in developing countries like India.
The research was led by Prof Chandra Shekhar Sharma, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT-H. This research has been partially funded by a DST-INSPIRE faculty grant.