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1) The seed is the foundation of a successful culture.
 
"ΑΡΧΗ ΗΜΙΣΥ ΠΑΝΤΟΣ" (ARCHI̱ I̱MISY PANTOS).  This adage belongs to the ancient philosopher Plato who suggested that the proper beginning in a process ensures half of its success. The beginning of a cultivating period is the sowing of the new crop.  The seed that is going to be used is the first and basic inflow and for this reason it has primary importance for the success of a crop. The critical characteristics, related to the seed chosen by the cultivator, are the appropriateness of the variety and the quality of the seed.  The most suitable variety is considered to be the one adaptable to the crop environment such that it is capable of fully utilizing the germination period of the area, the soil fertility, and other factors (water, fertilizers etc.).   A high quality seed is produced only under the law of genetic material production so it is clean and homogeneous, with good germination capacity and with sufficient size needed to ensure germination.  Appropriate choice of seed variety and a high quality seed are critical to achieve high yield and stable production since they act positively in the effectiveness of the other factors, like fertilizer, agrochemicals etc.  
Planting a new crop is like creating the foundation of a new building.  The builder excavates the base of the building, selects the right materials (concrete, etc.), and after calculates the quantity needed, proceeds to build the foundation by combining these materials.  This process is necessary so the foundation of the building is solid, secure and sustainable.  Can you imagine a luxurious building that is architecturally a piece of art, includes the most expensive and beautiful marble, but has an insufficient foundation?  It will be susceptible to collapse at the first earthquake.  The same truly happens in sowing.  The cultivator takes care of the “foundation” of his crop with good preparation of the field, selects the appropriate and high quality seed, and finally calculates the needed quantity, and then proceeds to sowing at the required depth, the right separation between seeds, and the distance between lines.  This process is necessary so the resulting crop is robust, secure, and sustainable.  Can you imagine a planting process that did not start with the best seed having positive financial effects?  It's like trying to fill a leaky barrel , spend money without a proportionate return. Even if we select the best field location, the most appropriate cultivation with optimum fertilization and irrigation, and use the best plant protection and other techniques for early weed control and treatment of diseases and insects, if the best quality seed was not used, the resulting end-product will have degraded quality. Therefore, the economic return will be less than the maximum possible, and possibly much less.  Thousands of years ago the first farmers also understood the importance of good seed and separated seeds from the good crop to use it for sowing in the following year.
This article has presented an argument for the importance of seed as a success factor.  It will be followed by other articles about the selection of appropriate variety and seed quality.  The subject of variety of seed is of particular interest for the future of agriculture because climate changes can undermine the sustainability of agricultural systems creating a demand for new varieties.  Agriculture has always been an activity that is closely weaved into the life of man, and in the coming decades its role is expected to become even more important.  The continuous increase in the earth's population makes it necessary for agricultural systems to be more productive.  Increased productivity must occur in adverse conditions for two reasons:  because the amount of arable land cannot be expanded, and because climate changes affect productivity.  Inevitably what is needed is new seed varieties that are adaptable to soil and climatic adversities.   New varieties can be leveraged to develop new farming systems having flexibility for changing conditions thus increasing effectiveness and ensuring food production.  Extending the argument made by Plato, the key requirement is to always use the highest quality seed for the selected variety.
 
Ioannis Tokatlidis, Professor
Democritus University of Thrace

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