I’ve read a variety of information on this site about storing seeds. The emphasis is on having really dry seeds and keeping them in a cool dark place and filling the bottles full so as to eliminate extra oxygen. Is that sufficient to keep seed destroying insects from damaging the seed? There is some mention about some experiments on one particular “beetle” but what about other insects. I’m wondering what would be the effect of adding a large amount of salt or lime or powdered ashes or hot chili pepper powder.
Hi Glen! ECHO staff and network members throughout the years have tried several different methods for controlling pests in storage.
@Neil_Rowe_Miller may be able to offer some suggestions based on his experience with powdered ashes/leaf powder.
@Tim_Motis and I have trialed several different technologies; most are found on ECHOcommunity already.
@Paw_Danmalidoi or @Rattakarn_Arttawutti may also have some suggestions to share based on ECHO Asia’s seed bank trials.
Stacy, would you be willing to share the results of the “several different technologies…” you and Tim tried?
Absolutely! Below are the relevant articles. I believe the other ECHO network members above have also tried other technologies:
Observational, need more validation:
- Poster - CO2 and Biogas Applications for Controlling Pests in Seeds | ECHOcommunity.org
- Low Oxygen Methods for Insect Control in Seeds | ECHOcommunity.org
Primary Literature from ECHO Staff:
Although it is not likely to be useful in remote areas due to a lack of availability, I can share my own personal approach. I have a probably excessive dislike of pesticides, so instead I use diatomaceous earth for bulk seed saving. You probably should wear a mask and rubber gloves, then add anywhere from a quarter cup to 2 cups to 50 pounds of seed and mix thoroughly so that all of the seeds are very lightly dusted with the barest coating. Diatomaceous earth is a fine white powder and it sticks to the seeds I have tried it with so far very well. In fact, I even use it rather than a wet sticker for apply certain legume inoculants by mixing the two powders together and then mixing them with my cowpea seed, but given where I live I would probably be ok with no inoculation for this crop so I cannot unreservedly advise this approach. The diatomaceous earth does however seem to greatly decrease insect damage, providing of course that the seed is otherwise properly protected. It would wash off in the rain or might even get blown off by wind if the seed is just in a pile under cover somewhere.
I forget to say that the reason for needing the widely variable amount of diatomaceous earth is that this depends on the size, shape, and surface of the seeds you are coating. Something like unhulled grain will catch a lot more than a hard seed like a watermelon.
Thanks John, that is interesting. Could you share more info on finding and identifying diatomaceous earth?
Also, does it have other purposes in organic farming?