Science

Through the science of seed conservation we are effectively safeguarding our native species for future generations. We store plant seeds using long term preservation methods at -20C. Many species survive in the deep freeze for 100s of years.

Does Ireland have a genetically unique flora?

We would like to encourage anyone reading this who has undertaken genetic research on Irish flora to get in touch, it is our intent to create a fully referenced hub of knowledge and information regarding our floral history.
We have taken DNA samples with each of our collections which can be made available for research.

Seed science in the laboratory

Basic science of seed conservation

Seeds are living, breathing forms of life.

Starting from harvest, the better we handle the seeds at each stage, the longer they will last in deep storage at -20C. Seed of same species often behave in similar ways so we can learn a lot by looking at past work. To preserve seeds in a long term deep freeze there are many considerations.

  • Harvest – timing is critical and varies from species to species, year to year and season to season.
  • Post harvest handling – appropriate storage out in the field until we get back to the Kilclief lab.
  • Cleaning – best practices to maintain the viability of the seed and genetic diversity.
  • Drying — using a dehumidifier cabinet the seeds are dried to 15% eRH (environmental relative humidity).
  • Bugs and diseases – best practices to keep the site, the seeds and the lab clean.
  • Testing the seed for viability — we aim for minimum 85% germination rate for the seed bank.
  • Storage methods — we use top quality packaging, guaranteed for 25 years to freeze the seeds at -20°C.

One of the main Aims of the Objects of True Harvest Seeds.

If you are interested in learning more you can either volunteer with us at Kilclief Seed Centre where you will pick up information along the way. Or take one of our Seed Training days.
Knowledge of seeds, how to grow, handle and store them has become the provenance of large global companies, with 3 conglomerates owning 97% of the world’s food seeds year on year.
To become self sufficient in real terms we need to understand the art of seed saving and complete the cycle of sowing-growing-harvesting-eating-harvesting seed-saving-sowing.