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Certified Cereal Seed key to Successful Crops

Genetic improvement and the consequential productivity benefits are key to enhancing the competitiveness of the Irish farming industry, according to Prof Jimmy Burke of Teagasc, Oak Park.

Speaking at the launch of a new information booklet on certified seed he said: "Plant breeding techniques are continuously evolving and contribute 1.0% - 1.5% yield improvement per annum. Yields, lodging resistance, plant health, and overall grain quality have improved massively in recent decades. A substantial part of the increase in average cereal yields over the past 25 years can be attributed to innovations in plant breeding. We must continue to facilitate the development and commercial introduction of better plant genetics into Irish farming systems, thus improving and safeguarding our national competitiveness in a fast evolving globalised market. We have the highest cereal yields in the world; we need to maintain that position to remain competitive."

Donal Fitzgerald, President of the Irish Seed Trade Association said: "Plant breeding and the commercial introduction of a new variety is an expensive and time consuming operation and on average takes 10 years before a new variety is ready for the market. This process has to be continually funded to ensure viability, and if not, then the introduction of newer and better varieties ceases to be a reality. Such an eventuality would have very serious long term effects on the viability of cereal growing in this country."

Each variety introduced to the market is protected by Plant Breeders Rights (a form of Intellectual Property "IP" rights) which ensures a return on investment to the parent breeding company. Certified seed is the principal mechanism by which IP income is returned to the plant breeders to fund their continued investment in developing new varieties. It is illegal to trade in un-certified seed under EU and Irish law, and growers using their own farm saved seed are obliged to pay a royalty to the breeder of the seed used.

"Applying the genetic improvement associated with certified seed to a 10 tonne per hectare crop of winter wheat, results in an additional return of 100 - 150kgs per hectare per year to the grower" said Donal Fitzgerald.

Irish certified seed is produced to the highest standards, providing growers with guaranteed spec on varietal purity, germination, and phyto-sanitary status. The Irish seed certification scheme operated under the supervision of DAFF is the cornerstone of many facets of Irish food and beverage brands, many of which are key drivers of export growth in our reviving economy.

Visit http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmingsectors/crops/seedcertification  for more details on seed certification.

Pictured at the launch of the new certified seed booklet were Prof Jimmy Burke, Teagasc, Oak Park; Roy Power, Seed Technology, Waterford; Donal Fitzgerald, President of the Irish Seed Trade Association and Tom Bryan, Boortmalt, Athy