Farm-saved seed users could soon face higher royalty charges as seed suppliers take action over plummeting sales.

Tim Hirst, Grainfarmers’ seeds director, said certified OSR seed orders for this autumn had dropped by a “disastrous” 30% compared with 2004.

“This is a dramatic change – just 1300t of certified rapeseed has been sold this autumn, compared with 1800t last year.

That’s cost the industry 125,000 in lost royalties.”

Farm-saved seed cost about 80/4ha pack of Castille, less than half the retail value, Mr Hirst said.

“And certified seed royalties cost 4000/t, while for own-saved seed it is just 1400/t.”

Such inequalities threatened the future of certified seed production, and the associated improvement of varieties by breeders, he added.

Mr Hirst said he and other parties would lobby the British Society of Plant Breeders to raise farm-saved royalties.

“Initially we will concentrate on oilseed rape – it’s too early to tell what has happened in the cereals market,” he said.