Part II - Background to Services Provided by Scottish Government and Licensed Individuals / Companies.
EU legislations requires that beet seed, cereal seed, fodder plant seed, oil and fibre plant seed and vegetable seed can be marketed provided they are certified. I.e. the seed must meet EU standards.
There are a number of administrative processes that SASA; the Certifying Authority ( CA) for Scotland make during the certification process. This includes checking that the variety is listed on the appropriate UK National List or EU Common Catalogue, and verifying that seed lots are eligible for crop production.
As well as verifying and registering an application, the CA arranges the following
- Control plots to be grown which allows the varietal identity and purity to be determined, together with some disease levels.
- Field inspections to be undertaken by RPID Officials, where a company does not have their own licensed inspectors.
- A field inspection will be carried out by RPID Officials in place of a licensed inspection, when a post control plot fails to meet the required varietal purity standards.
- Where field inspections are undertaken by licensed crop inspectors, the Directive requires that a percentage of licensed inspections are checked by Officials. The CA selects at random fields to be check inspected and arranges with Officials from the local RPID office to undertake this work.
- Issue of crop inspection results and confirmation of certification of seed lots where appropriate.
- Verification of imported herbage seed lots at Higher Voluntary Standard ( HVS) and issuing appropriate certificates. HVS verification applies to seed lots to be marketed mainly in grass seed mixtures'.
More information on seed certification at SASA can be found at: http://www.sasa.gov.uk/seed-testing-certification
Part of the certification process requires that a representative sample of the seed lot is tested to ensure that it meets EU standards for germination, analytical purity and content of seed of other plant species. The OSTS for Scotland, along with four Licensed Seed Testing Stations ( LSTS) perform these test.
Details can be found at:
Associated Seed Functions
Whilst EU Directives do not provide for the industry to certify their own seed, they do allow them to carry out a number of functions that fall within the process; provided individuals / companies have the necessary knowledge and / or qualifications, and that a percentage of the work they carry out is checked by the CA.
Licensed Professional Seed Operators
Once a company or individual is licensed with the CA as a seed merchant, seed processor and / or seed packer, Scottish Government is required to ensure that the seed sold, processed or packaged by them -
- 'is what it says it is, on the label' - certified seed of a registered variety, that meets EU standards;
- Is correctly packaged, labelled and sealed and;
- Has the appropriate documentation that forms an audit trial.
RPID staff are required to visit licensed premises where seed is being stored in a warehouse or being processed/packaged, at least once every 5 years. However, where the individual / company acts solely as a seed merchant, buying and selling seed, but never in physical possession of it, than a record check must be carried out at least every 5 years.
The Scottish Register of Licensed Professional Seed Operators can be found at: http://www.sasa.gov.uk/document-library/public-register-seeds-merchants-processors-packers
Licensed Crop Inspectors
Field inspections to check that a crop meets the EU field standards, can be carried out by either an RPID Official or by a licensed crop inspector. Individuals who want to become or maintain a crop inspector's licence are required to demonstrate that they have the knowledge and expertise needed to undertake a field inspection and this is achieved by sitting an exam every 5 years. As well as setting the exam, SASA also provide training courses on a species by species basis.
EU legislation specifies that at least 5% of crops which have had a licensed field inspection will be checked by RPID Officials.
For the register of Scottish licensed crop inspectors please go to: http://www.sasa.gov.uk/document-library/scottish-register-licensed-cereal-crop-inspectors
Licensed Seed Samplers
Scottish Government can provide an RPID Official to take an official representative sample of a seed lot being entered for certification. However, most companies have their own licensed seed samplers. These individuals will have attended a seed sampling workshop at SASA, after which they will have undergone an examination to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. To check that licensed seed samplers maintain their expertise, they must re-sit the exam every 5 years. To comply with EU requirements, RPID / SASA staff take check samples from the seed lot, in as short a time after the original was sampled by the licensed seed sampler. At least 5% of all seed samples taken by licensed seed samplers are checked annually.
For the register of Scottish licensed seed samplers please go to: http://www.sasa.gov.uk/document-library/seed-samplers-scotland
Licensed Seed Testing Stations ( LSTS)
The OSTS is responsible for the seed testing of all seed lots that are entered for certification in Scotland. The seed testing can be undertaken at one of the four LSTS, under supervision of the OSTS.
The staff undertaking the testing are all trained and examined at a UK level. Individuals can sit a number of seed divisions, which cover various agricultural and horticultural species. The OSTS check the proficiency of the individual seed analysts throughout the year using proficiency tests and check testing. A minimum of 5% of seed will be selected at random, tested by the OSTS and the LSTS & OSTS results compared.
The LSTSs are audited to ensure that there is the appropriate number of trained staff for the testing being a carried out, as well as the appropriate equipment, record keeping and facilities/premises to meet the conditions of their license.
Courses and Exams
In order to undertake any of the above licensed functions, Scottish Government provide training and refresher courses at SASA. Training courses are not obligatory, but are advisable, as applicants will be asked to demonstrate a range of skills and complete a written examination to show that they have the necessary knowledge.
Courses and exams are run on an annual basis, with licensed crop inspectors and seed samplers returning ever 5 years to be re-examined.
Further information on seed courses and exams provided at SASA can be found at - http://www.sasa.gov.uk/content/training-courses
Other Certification Authorities in the UK
England and Wales
Animal and Plant Health Agency (
Seed Certification and Marketing and ISO Team
Variety and Seeds
02080 265 869
Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs
Environmental Farming Branch
Upper Newtownards Road
Tel: 02890 524 876
Respondent Information Form
The Respondent Information Form is available in MS Word format (115KB)
Email: Carol Scott