Focus on Certified Seed in Irish Farmers Journal

A Focus on Certified Seed featured in the Irish Farmers Journal on 22nd August 2015, with 8 pages of articles on the standards for certified seed in Ireland, plant breeding and royalties, the challenge of grass weeds, and the views of Irish cereal seed growers.

In Ireland, over 8000ha are dedicated each year to the production of Irish certified cereal seed, with the annual market for cereal seed at around 38,000 to 40,000 tonnes. The seed industry, together with the Irish Seed Trade Association which comprises representatives from the Department of Agriculture, the seed houses and seed assemblers, ensure that Ireland has the highest standards for its cereal seed in Europe.

These strict standards ensure the quality of Irish certified seed, assurance of its cleanliness, and guarantee each bag of seed is high in purity, has good germination capacity and is free from major pests and diseases. ISTA also operates a higher voluntary standard of zero tolerance for contaminants like wild oats, sterile brome and blackgrass.

Renowned plant breeder, Chris Tapsell, KWS, spoke about new varieties which are needed to improve characteristics for disease resistance, better grain quality and increase plant yield. Seed royalties, payable to plant breeders, are also a critical income generator for investment in the production of new varieties and new breeding capabilities. But the challenges going forward including increased complexity, expense, lack of new young plant breeders, the potential effects of global warming, water use efficiency and other environmental concerns. Indeed, the cost of producing a new variety has gone from £1m to £2m over the last 20 years.

The farming businesses of three certified seed producers who work to the high standards required for Irish certified seed were profiled in the publication. In Co. Cork, Liam Day from Ardnabourkey, Whitegate, said ‘it’s all about getting the most out of each acre that you farm, and paying attention to detail at all times’. Barley is the main crop grown, with winter wheat, oats, beet, maize, beans and grass and they have strict systems in place for crop/field hygiene to keep grain yields and quality high.

Ivan Hemeryck operates a large diverse tillage farm outside Lucan, Co. Dublin, growing potatoes, wheat, barley, oats, beans and oilseed rape. A strong supporter of certified seed and the variety evaluation system, he is always keen to incorporate new varieties that show improved yield potential and is currently preparing to plant the two parents to produce hybrid barley seed in 2016.

Outside Carlow town, Clive Bayley and his father Melvin grow fodder beet, and wheat, barley, oats, oilseed rape, spring beans, and gluten-free oats. Certified seed is a premium crop and he said ‘I need to be sure that the seed is pure and free of any contaminants that could, in turn, be an issue with imported seed or for the quality requirements of the final crop'.

Read the full Focus on Certified Seed 8 page spread in the Irish Farmers Journal out 22 August 2015.

24th August 2015