The sale of most agricultural and horticultural seeds is controlled through a series of seeds regulations dealing with cereals, fodder crops, oil and fibre crops, beet seeds, and vegetables respectively. These regulations are part of an EU-wide framework which ensures that seeds meet the same quality standards wherever they are sold in the European Union.
The standards which must be met by most kinds of seed include varietal purity (trueness to type), analytical purity (a measure of gross contamination), freedom from weeds and germination. There are many other standards such as moisture content or freedom from a particular disease which apply to individual kinds of seed.
All seeds subject to the regulations (except vegetables, which can be sold as Standard Seed) have to be officially certified and can only be sold in labelled containers which preserve the integrity of the seed inside. The certification process requires that the seed be tested to ensure that it meets all the standards that apply to it. Some of these tests are made on the crop and some are made on the harvested seed. Many of the tests are carried out by members of the seed industry who are licensed for this work by Scottish Ministers.
Certification of cereal seed is the responsibility of Cereals Section. All other kinds of seed eg fodder crops, oilseeds etc are dealt with by the Herbage and Vegetable Section. The Official Seed Testing Station is responsible for testing harvested seed, both for the various certification schemes and for the information of farmers and growers. All three of the Sections provide training for licensed persons such as crop inspectors, seed samplers and seed analysts.