The Business Context & Problem
Pepper seed production is based on well-established farming practices and seed harvesting processes. Still, seed germination rates often fail to meet the minimum germination gold-standard of 90%, resulting in batch disqualification that translates into economic loss (~ €20,000 per seed batch, based on production costs and missed sales) and faulty seed delivery.
The Seed-X Solution
Seed-X received a representative unsellable seed batch with a germination rate of 85%.
GeNeeTM technology was trained to distinguish between germinating and non-germinating seeds by analyzing seed images captured by GeNee™ Detect. Once trained, GeNee™ AI technology was able to predict germination. Germination prediction scores were assigned per seed and conjointly with a tunable Decision Threshold used to generate two models balancing precision (germinating seed purity) and sensitivity (germinating seed recovery).
Model A: Setting the Decision Threshold at 0.5 resulted in 88% precision and 99% sensitivity (Figure 1, A). Higher sensitivity means fewer germinating seeds are being discarded i.e., with 99% sensitivity, only 1 seed in 100 is missed. However, precision of 88% only slightly enriches the initial 85% germination rate. Non-germinating seeds are still retained (panel A, green dots) and obstruct qualification of the seed batch.
Model B: Setting the Decision Threshold at 0.8, the overall precision increases to 96% (Figure 1, B). The trade-off is that sensitivity decreases to 80%. In other words, “only” 80 of 100 germinating seeds are kept and the remaining 20 are discarded (B, faint blue dots). However, most of the non-germinating seeds are also discarded and only a few remain (green dots in panel B). Model B enriches germinating seeds well beyond the 90% gold-standard and rescues the seed batch, making it sellable.
The Bottom Line
GeNee™ technology by Seed-X was able to take a sub-optimal seed batch (earmarked for disposal or price reduction) and upgrade it to commercial standards. Increasing germination rate to more than 95% involved discarding most of the non-germinating seeds and ~20% of the good, germinating ones. This trade-off was acknowledged to be commercially viable by the seed company providing this lot. In the near future, Seed-X will be pairing its GeNee™ technology with a high-throughput seed sorter to increase lots upgrading efficiency. This will enable seed companies to stop compromising on seed quality and to set a new gold-standard of 95% germination, while also making significant gains in cost-saving and timely seed supply.