The Official Seed Testing Station at NIAB is designated by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for England and Wales (Defra) as an Official Seed Testing Laboratory and is contracted to carry out the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) tests for customers on behalf of Defra. To enable the OSTS to carry out this function the laboratory at Cambridge is accredited and audited by ISTA and has to meet specified quality criteria based on ISO Guide 25 and EN 45001 standards.
The OSTS at NIAB works on around 6,000 samples a year. The species tested are mainly cereals, fodder pulses, oilseed rape, grasses and vegetables and the services includes:
- enforcement (control) testing: to monitor the quality of certified seed at point of sale
- Licensed Seed Testing Stations, OSTS audit and monitoring of 26 laboratories
- LSRP (Licensed Stations Reserve Portions) – OSTS check testing of 5% of seed lots certified by LSTSs
- export testing including issuing of ISTA Orange International Certificates
- certification testing
- advisory testing
- contracts for international companies.
As well as the routine seed tests offered OSTS has experience in a wide range of vigour tests, including expertise in areas of tetrazolium testing. OSTS also has extensive knowledge of flower and tree species and training programmes for bespoke courses.