Tillage farmers will be very aware of the importance of variety availability in all crops.
Varieties can bring a range of different characteristics to growers and, perhaps more importantly, they bring a stream of improved genetics on what seems to be a conveyor belt from the plant breeding sector.
Our recommended list and certification processes serves us well in this regard.
They have selected for us the best overall performers from the many new varieties that continue to be made available for evaluation.
The Department of Agriculture provides the recommended list and certification process, while the plant breeders bring us the new varieties.
While the taxpayer funds the recommended list and certification processes, plant breeders are funded by plant royalties, which are collected through the sale of certified seed.
The royalty rate can vary by crop and variety for certified seed, but royalties are also applicable to those who use home-saved seed.
Plant royalties are also payable on home- or farm-saved seed that does not go through the certification process.
The royalty on home-saved seed is at a lower rate (50%) compared with certified seed and is applicable at a flat rate across all varieties.
However, it varies by crop, as shown in Table 1.
It should be noted that failure to pay the reduced rate of royalty on time - prior to 30 June - will result in the full rate being payable for the crop thereafter.
The Plant Variety Development Office (PVDO) is the national organisation in Ireland that is responsible for the administration and collection of cereal seed royalties on behalf of plant breeders.
This differs from the Irish Seed Trade Association (ISTA), which represents the seed trade and licensed seed assemblers in Ireland.
The ISTA has a primary goal of promoting the use of certified seed and raising seed-quality standards in the market.
While the PVDO has been in existence for a long time, it has recently undergone personnel and organisational changes.
It used to be administered by a company based in Dun Laoghaire, but now the Animal and Plant Health Association (APHA) is to provide the administration and managerial supports to both the PVDO and to the ISTA.
New general manager
The new organisational structure has appointed a new general manager to run the day-to-day operations and develop longer-term strategic plans for both organisations.
Brigid Quigley has been appointed as general manager of the PVDO and the ISTA. In this role, she will have full operational responsibility for the day-to-day activities of both organisations.
Commenting on the changes, APHA chief executive John Keogh said: “We are delighted to have reached an agreement with the PVDO and [the] ISTA to support them in their work in furthering the development of a commercial and sustainable tillage sector in Ireland that is underpinned by the latest technologies and seed genetics.”