The Seed Certification Scheme provides a guarantee to the purchaser that seed is properly labelled, high in quality and free from major pests and diseases.
It ensures seed is produced, multiplied and marketed according to European Union regulations while maintaining the genetic integrity of the product.
At its simplest, the system certifies that a sack, packet or box of seed contains what it says on the label and that the seed was produced to the proper standard. Experienced officials conduct all the inspections, tests and controls needed.
In the case of combinable crops
, such as cereals and beans, seed crops must be grown under a written contract which is drawn up between the seed processor and the grower. A copy of the contract, signed by both parties, is then forwarded to the Department which acts as the certifying agency.
Each seed crop is inspected by Department inspectors to confirm the identity of the variety, to ensure that it meets the minimum level of varietal purity and that it meets certain plant health and pest infection standards.
Segregation, Sealing and Labelling
Each variety must be kept separate from other varieties at all stages in seed processing, and the identity and traceability of the seed preserved.
Each container of seed is officially sealed to ensure that any tampering with the seed is evident. Containers are also officially labelled to confirm the standard and identity of the seed and provide traceability.
Visual and Laboratory Analysis
All certified seed is subject to official visual examination by Deparment inspectors. Seed of combinable crops, such as cereals and beans, is subject to laboratory analysis at the Department's Seed Testing Laboratory in Backweston.
All land to be used for seed potatoes must be soil sampled and tested for Potato Cyst Nematodes. Leaf samples are taken during inspection of growing crops to test for virus diseases. Tuber samples are tested for quarantine diseases - ring rot, brown rot and certain nematodes.
Post Control Tests
It is a legal requirement that samples of certified seed lots are grown out in small plots to verify that the seed lot meets the necessary standards.