Official Seed Testing Station (OSTS)

The Official Seed Testing Station for Scotland (OSTS), SASA is the principle centre for seed testing and seed quality information in Scotland.  The OSTS is accredited to both the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) and UKAS to ISO 17025:2005.  

The OSTS offers a wide range of laboratory tests that provide practical and reliable information for seed processors, merchants and growers on the quality of seed intended for sowing. Tests are made in carefully controlled conditions by trained and experienced analysts, using internationally approved methods. 

Our accreditation is limited to those activities described on our UKAS schedule of accreditation, see our [QA page].

Seed Certification

The OSTS undertakes some of the official testing of seed intended for certification.  Legislation allows for private seed testing laboratories to carry out official tests for certification provided they meet the licensing requirements defined in Seeds Regulations.  The OSTS monitors all official tests made in licensed seed testing stations.

Seed for Export

The OSTS issues Phytosanitary Certificates on behalf of Scottish Ministers for Seed Exports.

For guidance on Seed Samples for Export (Phytosanitary Certificate Requirement) - Marian McEwan/ Valerie Cockerell, 0131 244 8879/8900

Submitting Seed Samples

Seed samples for certification testing must be drawn by official or licensed samplers. Correct completion of the form SDG5 submitted with the sample will ensure all required tests are completed.

Price Lists 

For further information on our training courses and research and development see the following pages:

Common Crop Names

Common names of crop and "other seed" species found in Scotland

Since the beginning of time man has assigned names to the organisms in their environment. Communication of these names among people from different regions in the world has proven to be very confusing considering all the language and cultural differences involved. Even communicating from one region to another within one country can be difficult. For this reason, scientists have agreed upon a system for naming organisms that is based primarily on Latin.

Whereas common names vary from country to country and even within regions of a country, Latin names are internationally acceptable. For example, Galium aparine is named "Cleavers" in the east of Scotland, "Sticky Willy" in the west and "Goose grass" in the Borders. This is the reason why our seed testing reports refer to Latin names of plant.

To help you interpret your reports see the Common Crop Names document which contains a table that gives a list of Latin names and Common names of crops and other seed species found in Scotland. We are interested in making this list as comprehensive as possible and if you know of a common name of a crop or weed found in your area of Scotland that is not included in our this list please contact

Seed Certification

SASA is the Certifying Authority for seed produced in Scotland. Prior to certification, seed of most crop species must be officially tested to ensure that certain minimum standards are met. In the UK these standards are defined in Seeds Regulations. In Scotland there are five sets of Seeds Regulations covering Cereal, Fodder, Oil & Fibre, Vegetable and Beet seeds. These regulations define both the minimum standards and Higher Voluntary Standards that apply in the UK.  Seed testing requirements are dependant on crop and category and are defined in Schedule 4 of each of five sets of Scottish Regulations. Most seed must meet standards for species purity, germination and other seed content.  Some may also have moisture or disease standards. The Tetrazolium test can only be used as an alternative to the full germination test on cereals seed.  For more information and restrictions on the application of Tetrazolium tests for Cereal Certification purposes follow the like below.

Further information is provided in the OSTS Price List for Certification Tests.

The OSTS undertakes some of the official testing of seed intended for certification and also supervises all official tests made in licensed seed testing stations. In this way, the high quality of Scottish certified seed is maintained.

Sampling seed for certification purposes must be done by either a Licensed sampler or an Official sampler following approved sampling procedures.

OSTS Price List for Certification Tests
Tetrazolium testing procedure for certificcation of cereals

Seed Sample Submission
Further information on Seed Certification requirements

Please remember that most kinds of agricultural seeds cannot be sold unless they have been officially certified.

Submitting Seed Samples

All other seed samples submitted for testing should be representative of the lot or bulk from which they are taken or the test result will not relate to the quality of the whole lot or bulk. To take a representative sample, select a number of small samples from several bags, or from different parts of the bulk.  If it is a very large bulk then it is better to sub-divide in to smaller lots and take a representative sample from each lot. Do not keep seed samples in warm or damp conditions prior to testing.

The OSTS can provide detailed information on seed sampling procedures and equipment.  Seed Sampling Courses are held each year at SASA.

Pre-addressed sample bags for non-certification tests can be supplied on request.

Contact: or telephone 0131 244 8908.

OSTS Contacts

For general seed testing enquiries and information on prices or further supplies of pre-addressed sample packets - email or telephone 0131 244 8908.

For advice on disease tests and interpretation of results - Valerie Cockerell (0131 244 8900), see also Staff Directory page.

For guidance on Seed Samples for Export (Phytosanitary Certificate Requirement) - Marian McEwan/Valerie Cockerell, 0131 244 8879/8900