Agriculture: Seedlings Production Technical Guides

When you heard the word seedling what came to your mind?

Seedlings are young plants raised from seeds while seeds are a unit of production of a flowering plant capable of developing into another plant. Farmers willing to raise their seedlings should understand that the importance of site location is very important, topography, water supply, drainage, area and proximity to transplanting fields should be carefully considered in their decision making.

The choice of seedling trays or containers depends on farmer location and affordability, this results in different innovation ideas initiated by different farmers across the globe such as the use of egg, shell, jute bag, plastic containers and trays etc.

Seedling trays / containers

These are used for propagating vegetables, flowers and other plants from seed before transplanting into an open field or Greenhouse. This offers farmer’s the opportunity to start a large number of seeds in one container.

Seedlings trays enhance the following benefits

  1. Easy to transport to field
  2. It ensure strong healthy seedlings with a well developed root system
  3. It allows high quality and uniform seedlings
  4. Trays can be re used after proper washing and storage

Be innovative and find suitable seedling containers around you!!

Growing medium and growing media

To have healthy seedlings it depends on choice and selection of a workable growing medium and growing media. Growing medium is the material used in a container to grow a plant which enables plant root development being it soil or soilless while a growing media consists of mixtures of components that provide water, air, nutrients and support to plants. A growing medium must be selected according to the aeration and water requirements in respect to the growth stage of the plant while a growing media composition, functions and intended use should be understood to make the selection process easier.

The function of growing media are not limited to but include: They provide a reservoir for water holding, a nutrient holding and exchange system while a growing medium provide physical support, aeration, water and mineral nutrient supply.

Seedlings production planning

For a successful seedlings production, adequate decision making is the bedrock to economic wise production, therefore planning determines the quantity of materials and equipment to procure during production.

Quantity of seeds, growing medium ,number of seed packs and trays to procure could be determined when proper planning is done prior to production.

The size of the land area available for transplanting of seedlings determine the quantity of seeds to be raised, agricultural farm areas are being measured in hectare (meter square per hectare) i.e. 10,000 meter square = 1 hectares .

Miss Lawal has a farm size of 10000 meter square for tomato production, using the land size and choice of seeds to grow, as a certified seed grower determines the quantity of seeds, growing medium, number of tray and seed packs to procure during seedlings production?

Since the land area size is 10000 meter square therefore standard Bed size 1m by 0.5m.

To get the number of beds in a 10,000 meter square.

100m÷1.5m= 66 number of beds.

The intra spacing between seedlings when transplanted on bed determines the total number of seedlings on one bed.

As we all agree that the intra spacing for tomatoes is 0.5m and the length of the bed is 100m.100m÷0.5m =(200)×2=400

i.e the seedlings are transplanted at both length sides of the bed.

Therefore total number of seedlings are:

Total number of Beds in 10,000 meter square multiply by Total number of seedlings on one bed.

 66 number of bed ×400 numbers of seedlings on one bed =24,600

Do not forget your 30% extra of seed

therefore 30 % of 26,400=7,920

New number of total seeds = 26,400 +7,920= 34,320

using  a seed tray of 104 cells the total number of trays to procure?

34,320÷ 120  =285 trays are needed

Using a growing medium of coco pith, since 9-10kg of coco pith could  fill 21 trays of 120 cells, how many kg will fill up 285 trays?


Xkg= 285 trays

Cross multiply

= 136kg of coco pith will fill up 285 trays

Using a seed pack of 1000 seed per pack, for 34,320 seed?


1000 seeds =1 pack

34,320 seeds= X pack

When we cross multiply

We will have 26 packs.

Seedlings Management

Choice of seed: It is always advisable for farmers to always select seeds that are highly resistant to prevailing diseases in their environment, high yield and suitable to the farmer ecological environment because all these considerations enhance quality yield and better performance of seedlings. sowing of seed: the seed tray should be filled gently with the growing medium and not compressed in to the seed tray, the seed depth shouldn’t be too deep and not too shallow therefore the depth should double of size of seed or preferably the year of experience of the farmer could be use to determine the sowing depth, cover the seed lightly with the growing medium and irrigate lightly please always avoid over watering rather the growing medium should be kept moist.

Irrigation frequency: The choice of growing medium determines the frequency of irrigation of seedlings, the more absorbent your growing medium the lower you irrigate while the less absorbent the growing medium the higher you irrigate. Generally irrigation could be done twice in a day early morning and afternoon with a very light irrigation.

It should be noted that seedlings  need a growing medium that’s constantly moist as they can’t survive long without water.

Fertilization of seedlings

The nutrients content of your growing medium (e.g. potting soil /coco coil) being organic or inorganic growing medium determine if  additional fertilization would be needed or not. It has been reported that some growing medium  such as coco pith could supply the reacquired nutrients needed by seedlings throughout their nursery duration while  some growing  medium could not, for organic base seedlings production there is no need of additional in-organic nutrient rather organic base growing media should be selected,but if this could not be achieved or afford by some farmers drenching of seedlings can be implemented.

Drenching of seedlings is the supply of fertilizer to the base of the growing medium without altering the foliage part of the seedlings.

Procedure is described below:

  •       The farmer should get NPK15:15:15 or CAN fertilizer,
  •       A bowl size that could accommodate the seed tray and also allow floating of the seed tray when immersed.

It is advisable during drenching of seedlings to use the same quantity of water you use should be equivalent to the quantity of fertilizer in grams/ liter respectively.

  •       5 liter of water to 5g fertilizer.36

 Mr. John is planning to raise 34,200 seedlings, as an extension service provider kindly explain the procedure for fertilizing his seedlings and estimate the possible quantity of water and fertilizer to be used?

  •       Using a seed tray of 120 cells the total number of trays to procure=

34,320÷ 120 =285 trays are needed

  •       Since 20 (g ) +20 (l ) will be enough for 17 trays

 THAT IS 20 gram +20 liters = 17 trays

  X = 285 trays

  •       cross multiply/ make × the subject of formula
  •       We have 335 grams of NPK 15:15:15 + 335 Liters of water will be approximately needed for 285 trays of seedlings.

Note : the quantity of fertilizer reacquired should be first dissolved in smaller container before dissolving in the estimated quantity of  water, also the base of seedling trays  are to be drenched not the leafy part in addition seedlings should be irrigated after drenching to avoid burning of the foliage part of the seedlings.

Furthermore seedlings could be drenched 2_3 weeks after sowing or preferably follow the crop guide provided on the seed pack.

Seedlings Hardening

This is simply referred to as the transition of seedlings from a controlled environment to another new environment.

This process prepared seedlings to withstand the changes in environmental conditions of their new environment. Seedlings that are not hardening are expected to experience plant shock during transplanting as a result of direct sunlight on the field. It is expected to reduce watering of seedlings to the nearest minimum during the hardening process rather they should experience more sunlight i.e from low duration to higher duration.

Hardening process could be achieved following these three basic steps:

* Bring out your seedlings to experience a maximum of one hour sunlight duration this expected during your first day of Hardening.

  •       Return your seedling back to the nursery house to cool.
  •       Lengthening the sunlight duration during the hardening process for about 3_4 days before transplanting.

Note: Seedlings are to be transplanted to their new home being an open field or greenhouse after a successful hardening to avoid  overdue of seedlings in nursery, also to allow proper root development and healthy plant.

Dear passionate farmers we should be able to use the right words when purchasing our growing/nursery material, which means seedlings are different from seeds, also we have learnt the important of planning, this will enable us to avoid excess or shortage of growing materials in order to maximize profit and lastly If our great farmers are ready for adoption of new ideas (innovation) with time modern Agronomic practice will surely be our way of life.

Relatively few Nigerians farmers have given serious thought about growing organic fruits and vegetables. However, now is a good time to consider the possibility for a number of reasons which include:

  •       Strong demand for organic horticultural products, while the supply base in Nigeria remains  small
  •       Potential to significantly expand the volume and range of horticultural crops grown in Nigeria
  •       A horticultural enterprise as an integral part of an existing livestock system may help to increase margins
  •       The new organic farming system will provide specific support for organic horticulture. It assumes a sound understanding of agricultural systems, but limited knowledge of fruit and vegetable production.

Starting a new enterprise is a significant step full of opportunities , there are many challenges that need to be met such as technical and production issues like marketing outlets, logistics and distribution, access to land, machinery, labour and finance .

We hope that this guide serves as a good introduction to organic growing, as we are so much fortunate in Nigeria to have a number of organizations who are able to help in putting theory of organic  growing into practice, just as I am ready to help you put in theories into practical on the basis of organic growing, so as to be able to achieve our dreams in both financially and helping our dear nation Nigeria as a country.

My name is Nafesat Lawal, a graduate of Ahmed Bello University, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Crop Science.  Discipline: Agronomy and Extension service provider carrier goals: TO contribute toward food security in Nigeria by providing adequate information to farmers focusing on 30% theoretical knowledge and 70% technical guide, also creating avenue for woman and youth skills acquisition.


Phone number: 09154683270

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25 thoughts on “Agriculture: Seedlings Production Technical Guides

  1. Nafisat I look forward to a day when you will become a law maker in the agric sector of this country, people like you are very rare. I want to assure you of our utmost commitment to collaborate and help you achieve your dreams. You’ve done a great job.

  2. We need to start building farmers of today and tomorrow to learn the tread of growing big and maximizing production, we cannot feed our nation with hoe and cutlass or with the traditional way of broadcasting seed on the ground and uprooting it with shock while you transplant. Like you rightly said, a farmer can raise thousands of seedlings using to this simple method and also it shorten the waiting period for seed to germinate from the soil. Agriculture is indeed for development. Well-done and keep it up.

  3. This is very explicit and self explanatory. Most farmers are not getting a desirable yield cos of bad seedlings from the nursery.
    Besides, I think you should educate farmers why they need to go for coco peat instead of soil as substrate while doing their nursery.

  4. Very nice writeup, the very bases for a vegetable production is having the knowledge on seedlings production. Kudos

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