Low-cost drying of seed collections
RBG Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place is a state-of-the-art facility, with much sophisticated equipment to facilitate the processes needed to prepare seeds for long-term storage.
Plastic barrel for drying seeds
Such equipment is not always readily available or indeed necessary for anyone needing to store seeds on a small scale. For this reason, our scientists have developed some easily-obtainable low-cost alternatives for drying seeds prior to storage, enabling MSBP Partners to keep collections for much longer periods of time than would otherwise be possible.
Silica gel is a commonly-used desiccant for drying seeds. Other desiccants that work effectively include charcoal and seeds such as rice or maize as long as they are baked dry prior to use. Effective non-porous containers with a reasonable airtight seal include: plastic boxes, buckets with lids, or sealed, heavy-duty plastic sacks.
Recipients of low-cost drying equipment and advice from our Technology Specialists include: the Horticulture Section at Kew, and MSBP Partners in Corsica, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Turks & Caicos, the Ascension Islands and the Falkland Islands.
Mini Seed Bank
RBG Kew’s Mini Seed Bank is designed for gardeners or allotment-holders wishing to save their seeds, but can also be employed by small-scale conservation projects. The simple instructions follow similar principles to those adopted by large-scale seed banks.
This kit has been developed for the collection, processing, drying and storage of seeds, as a result of the MSBP’s continuing commitment to improving seed conservation technology. The main components of the kit are a high quality polythene box and a reusable silica gel desiccant with coloured indicating beads.
The box acts both as a drying chamber and the 'seed bank' at the end of the collecting season. Indicating silica gel sachets are also included so that the seed drying process can be monitored, ensuring that the seeds are only stored once they have been sufficiently dried.
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