A company wishing to multiply seed of a species covered by the Seeds Regulations will need to enter their crops into the certification system. To be eligible the crops must be sown with seed of a known pedigree which is appropriate for the category of seed which it is intended to produce (for example, basic seed sown to produce certified seed).
The field used must also meet certain standards in terms of what has previously been grown in the field. For example, it is not possible to grow a seed crop of one variety of wheat in the year immediately following another wheat crop.
NIAB records the details of all seed crops entered for further multiplication including seed lots sown, field sizes, locations and previous cropping details.
Seed crops must be inspected by a qualified crop inspector to ensure that the crops meet appropriate standards of varietal purity, freedom from weeds and where appropriate they are adequately isolated from potential sources of cross-pollination. Variety descriptions are maintained by NIAB.
NIAB runs training courses and examinations that lead to qualification as licensed crop inspector for cereal, pulse, herbage, oil and fibre or sugar beet crops.
Each year NIAB co-ordinates a programme of around 1,200 crop inspections, of which NIAB staff inspect almost half.