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Official Seed Testing Station

The Department of Agriculture tests DBN's wildflower seeds for germination rates, purity and disease, as well as for export Phytosanitary requirements. 

Our nursery stock and crops are occasionally inspected when they are growing in summer so that they can receive an E.U Plant Health Passport. 

Official Seed Testing Station

The Official Seed Testing Station (O.S.T.S.) of the Department of Agriculture and Food is situated at the Abbotstown Laboratory Complex, Snugborough Road, Dublin 15. Only tests conducted at O.S.T.S. are recognised for Official purposes, although there are a number of seed firms, private laboratories and other private or public companies with seed testing facilities for their own use.
The Station is affiliated to the International Seed Testing Association (I.S.T.A.), which has well defined rules for all testing procedures. Tests carried out according to these rules are obligatory for National and International trade in seed. The Station is staffed by trained, experienced analysts.
Seed Certification 
While the Station came into existence in 1900, its role has undergone a fundamental change since we joined the E.U. in 1973. All the important agricultural and horticultural seeds are now subject to official certification and control requiring official testing for germination and purity. Consequently the majority of tests are now carried out for official seed certification purposes while in the past they were mainly done for the seed merchants and farmers as an advisory service. This advisory testing is still available and many still avail of it today.
Tests Available
The following outlines the range of tests available from O.S.T.S. that may be of particular relevance to you.
Intervention 
All grain samples going into and coming out of Intervention require testing for moisture content and purity to establish whether they comply with E.U standards.
Germination 
The germination test determines the actual germination potential of normal seeds within a seed lot which can be used to compare the quality of different lots and also estimate the field planting value.
The accurate assessment of germination potential is carried out by competent seed analysts using specialised germinators and growth substrates. The aim is to determine the optimum germination capabilities of the seed under ideal conditions. The Station analysts are trained to recognise the major causes of poor seed germination, primarily abnormalities caused by disease or resulting from drying, mechanical, sprouting or dressing damage.
Germination tests take varying lengths of time to complete, for example cereals take 12 to 14 days, while some grasses require 21 days and certain tree and wildflower species up to 6 weeks. The germinators used are designed so that the requisite amounts of heat, air, moisture and light specified by the ISTA Rules can be accurately controlled. If dormancy is involved the seed may be pre-chilled, pre-heated or treated with either giberellic acid or potassium nitrate before the actual germination test commences. The dormancy breaking treatment used depends on the species to be tested.
Germination Viability (Tetrazolium Test) 
If a more rapid indication of potential germination in cereals is required the Station can provide a Tetrazolium Test in a matter of days from receipt of sample. The test involves a detailed microscopic examination of stained seed embryos to establish the proportions which display viable or damaged essential structures. The Station has found that the correlation between the Tetrazolium Test and the Germination Test is very high for cereals.
A tetrazolium result of 94% should ensure a germination level that meets certification standards of 85% provided the seed receives an appropriate chemical treatment, there is no evidence of damage (e.g. drying, sprouting or mechanical) and where the seed has not suffered glyphosate damage.
Analytical Purity 
This determines the percentage weight of seeds in the sample under examination which is true to type and is genuine seed of the kind named. It does not confirm varietal purity, which can be only be obtained by growing the seed to maturity.
To determine purity the analyst examines the sample seed by seed, under magnification where necessary. All normal seeds of the desired species are segregated from the various impurities, and weighed to determine the percentage purity of the seed sample.
Impurities in a sample usually consist of
· Weed seeds 
· Other crop seeds, (e.g. barley in a wheat sample) 
· Inert matter, (e.g. broken grain, soil, scraps). 
In the case of grasses, 'seeds' which are true to name but which contain no kernel (caryopsis), or contain only an undeveloped kernel, are regarded as inert matter and therefore classed as impurities. The components of the various impurities are identified in the final report produced by the Station. The significance of harmful impurities, such as noxious weeds, should not be overlooked.
Seed Weight 
While information on the percentage germination is essential for good establishment of seeds, many growers also require information on the Thousand Seed Weight of the seed lot when planning seedling population.
The Thousand Seed Weight test based on ISTA Rules will be available, upon request, from January 2000.
Moisture Content 
The official method for testing moisture content is by oven drying and temperatures and over periods of time specified according to the I.S.T.A. Rules. The moisture content is represented as a percentage of the sample weight.
The moisture content of seed can affect storage life and can also affect germination after chemical treatment. 
Instantaneous moisture metres are generally accurate and are commonly used by seed merchants and growers. It is essential that they are checked regularly to ensure accuracy. The O.S.T.S. can, on request, conduct moisture tests on all kinds of seed. These results can be used to check the calibration of moisture metres.
Samples for moisture tests should be submitted in a strong plastic bag from which all the air has been removed and then tightly sealed.
Malting Tests 
The O.S.T.S. offers a range of malting growth tests: germination energy and germination capacity. Many growers of malt also find the Tetrazolium Test useful, particularly for identifying drying damage and sprouting.
Disease Testing 
Application of the appropriate agri-chemical usually controls seed borne diseases and it is not recommended to sow untreated cereal seed if it has not been tested. In some circumstances the choice and rate of application of seed dressings may depend on the results of tests for seed borne diseases.
The O.S.T.S. offers a range of seed-borne disease tests:
1. Barley Leaf Stripe and Net Blotch 
2. Barley Loose Smut 
3. Fusarium Test in cereals 
4. Ascochyta in peas and beans 
5. Phoma in sugar beet 
More detailed information on seed borne diseases and advice and guidance on cereal seed treatments can be obtained from Teagasc tillage advisory services.
Other Seed Testing Services 
The O.S.T.S. also provides a range of tests in addition to the above, including tests on the seeds of grass and clover, peas and beans, linseed, vegetables, trees and flowers.
General
Procedures for Sampling and Submitting Samples 
In the case of certified seed, sampling is conducted by officers of the Department of Agriculture and Food using approved instrumentation and specified procedures, to ensure that test results are representative of the seed lot from which the seed sample was drawn.
Official certification envelopes are supplied by the O.S.T.S for such seed.
Farmers, merchants or anyone else submitting seed for testing must take care to secure a sample which is representative of the bulk of the seed. Random unbiased sampling of bulk or bag lots is of paramount importance. All the samples then taken from bulk or bag should be thoroughly mixed and a quantity - generally not less than 50 grams in the case of grass or other small seeds, and not less than 100 grams in the case of cereals or larger seeds - should be taken from the mixture. The sample should be forwarded in the appropriate sealed envelope as supplied on request by the Station.
All of the details requested on the sample envelope should be supplied.
Reporting or Test Results 
The results of tests on certified seed are returned to the Department of Agriculture and Food Officer who sampled the seed. By arrangement, in urgent situations, results can be conveyed to the officer by phone or fax, with the certificate following by post.
Results of tests on samples submitted by merchants, farmers or others will be posted, but the result may again be given by fax or phone with the certificate following in the post.
Payment 
The fees for tests are set in June and apply for 12 months from the 1st of July of that year. A list of fees is available from O.S.T.S. upon request. The appropriate fee should be forwarded with the sample. An advance arrangement can be made with the station for payment on account.
Visits to the Official Seed Testing Station 
Requests for group visits to the Station can only be considered in the period April until August.
For further information on our services, tests, fees and visits
Write to: The Official Seed testing Station Department of Agriculture and Food Abbotstown Laboratory Complex Snugborough Road Dublin 15
Phone: (01) 6072575 
Fax: (01) 8217037
Email: garry.duffy@daff.irlgov.ie
Document last modified on: 6/11/2000 

Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. AN Roinn Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Forbartha Tuaithe Government of Ireland
 
 

Sandro's Famous Wildflower Seeds - Handing On Our Heritage

Hand picked quality perennials    Great Irish Horticulture 

Mr. Sandro Cafolla t/a   Design By Nature (Ire) 

Monavea, Carlow, Ireland. Eircode R93 T289

DBN is a Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, (DAFM) :

Registered Native Sourced Irish Wildflower Seed Grower, Harvester, 

Supplier, Processor, Mixer and Packer DAFM Registered No: IECS152

Vat No : IE 3656298P | Business Reg: 109182

EU Plant Health Pass: EUPP/IRL/DAFF/2684.

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