In order to be marketed, seed of most agricultural species must be officially certified. Seed certification schemes protect farmers and their customers by guaranteeing that all UK certified seed meets prescribed standards for varietal identity and purity, germination and freedom from foreign material. NIAB operates a seed certification generation, management and tracking system, under contract to APHA, and underpinned by the Seed Marketing Regulations.
NIAB provides quality assurance and consumer protection, through a management and tracking system using documentary control and official monitoring of crops and seed lots. Impartiality and confidentiality for the companies involved is paramount. We maintain pedigree records for all seed lots and seed crops in England and Wales. A sample of each multiplication generation seed lot entered for certification is sown into plots at NIAB. The findings from these plots provide important information regarding the purity of seed lots and an insight into potential problems that may be present in current crops.
Around 275,000 tonnes of cereal seed and 34,000 tonnes of other seed are certified by NIAB during the year. NIAB’s Agricultural Crop Characterisation team records over 3,300 certification plots, covering 38 species, and coordinate an annual programme of over 1,200 seed crop inspections.
NIAB provides training and assessment of licensed crop inspectors, seed analysts and seed samplers to maintain the viability and integrity of these vital schemes. Certification data is available as part of the NIAB Membership scheme, and online as part of Seedstats and Seed Production information. We also offer a range of services to help with variety identity and purity, including laboratory analysis, botanical descriptions and interactive variety ID tools.