Cover Crops - Saved Seed Rules Reminder

Cover Crops - Saved Seed Rules Reminder

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

As part of the FAIR PLAY campaign on farm-saved seed, the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB) is reminding growers that using farm-saved seed of eligible varieties in cover crop mixtures is subject to the same seed regulations and FSS rules as harvested crops.

Interest in the use of cover crops among arable farmers has increased recently in response to CAP greening requirements and as research has demonstrated the rotational benefits of cover crops for soil quality, reduced nutrient losses, and improved weed and disease management.

This renewed interest has been reflected in an increasing number of queries received by BSPB from individual farmers in relation to the use of combinable crops such as peas, oats and barley in cover crop mixtures.

BSPB is therefore advising farmers and their advisers that seeds regulations and farm-saved seed rules apply regardless of whether a crop is taken to harvest, and that when sowing a cover crop mixture which includes seed of PVR protected varieties, farmers must use either new seed purchased from a licensed seed merchant or farm-saved seed produced on their own holding.

Under the FSS rules, farmers cannot sell, barter, exchange or in any other way transfer farm-saved seed between holdings.

In addition, the use of eligible varieties as farm-saved seed in cover crops must be declared to BSPB and FSS payment made according to the proportion of eligible varieties in the mixture and the area sown.

A list of eligible varieties and payment rates by crop species is available on the FSS section of the BSPB web-site at: can contact the BSPB helpline on 01353 653209 for advice.

Farmers purchasing new seed to use for cover crops should ensure that this is certified seed bought from a licensed seed merchant (for peas, oats and barley) or if they are buying a cover crop mixture which may include a combination of regulated and unregulated species, that the bag carries an official green label stating 'mixture of seed for green cover'. 


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