Seed Collector

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

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With land clearing happening throughout South Australia, the native environment is changed through loss of biodiversity, plant and animal extinction, soil erosion, increased salinity and weed invasion.

Native seed collection is an important step in helping to counter environmental problems such as salinity and degraded land.
  • Seed collectors collect a wide range of native seed such as eucalypt and salt bush, so that enough useable seed is available to undertake vegetation and regeneration projects. Since European colonisation, much of Australia's natural vegetation has been cleared. Many species are now under threat and the land degradation that has occurred needs to be addressed. On the upside, many of South Australia's native flora can withstand harsh conditions such as drought or salinity, so are valuable for land rehabilitation purposes. Seed collectors play a significant role in addressing problems of land degradation and sustaining the natural environment.

  • There are no specific education requirements needed for entry to this occupation, however, employers generally view favourably those applicants who have done some formal training in the area.

    TAFE SA offers the Certificate II, III and IV in Conservation and Land Management.

  • Mining companies have an obligation to rehabilitate used minesites and native seeds help bring the land back to its natural form. Farmers trying to counter salinity problems in a particular catchment area, will use native seed to help recreate the natural environment that has been eroded by salinity. This is a means of overcoming salinity, as is planting shrubs capable of tolerating high salt levels. They help reduce the water table and therefore decrease the salinity level. Some local companies export a small percentage of the collected seed. As well as the larger seed companies, there are also self-employed seed collectors who also trade in the marketplace. There are people for whom seed collecting is only part of their portfolio of jobs. Outside of the seed collecting season, Phil Knapton works as an environmental consultant, advising clients about rehabilitation projects, and helping them manage those projects.

  • Most of the native seed collected in South Australia is for local use. Before seed collecting starts, and usually during the flowering season, seed collectors carry out reconnaissance by inspecting the area they plan to collect.

    Seed collecting techniques vary from simple hand collection to the use of commercial machinery. Secateurs are used for cutting away bunches of pods or nuts and some seeds can be stripped off plants by hand or shaken into ground sheets or buckets. Vacuum harvesters are used to collect large quantities of dry seed that have fallen from the bushes.

  • Seed collectors should have knowledge of the local flora, knowledge of where to find various species and the timing of seed production. Seed collecting is quite physical, so it's also important to be fit. Seed collectors also need to keep good records of what, where and when they collected the various native seed.

  • When seeds are collected, they usually contain leaves, twigs or insects. Seed is processed, using both hand sieves and a wide range of mechanical cleaners. Cleaning the seeds reduces the amount of space taken up during storage and improves seed storage life.

    Next, seed collectors weigh and package the seed, which is then stored as stock or sent to customers. Not all collected seed will germinate. In some cases, there may be no seed inside the fruit, or the seed may be dead, however, the majority of seed that is supplied commercially, is viable and germinable.

    Seed collecting programmes are often aimed at maintaining the integrity of the local gene pool. This is called provenance seed collection.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online