Monthly Archives: February 2016

Not for profit berry company launched

In what is thought to be the first such project in the UK, a new not-for-profit soft fruit marketing agency has been established.

Berry Alliance is a Not for Profit (‘NFP’) company which has been set up to support growers throughout the world supply direct to retailers in the UK and for retailers to deal direct with growers. It aims to reduce costs for both suppliers and customers in the supply chain compared with traditional marketing companies.

The company has been founded by Pascal Simian and Steve Sadler who together have 40 years of combined experience in the produce sector. Pascal said, “After 18 months of careful research and refinement, we’ve honed a solution that’s mutually beneficial to all parties—Berry Alliance, a not for profit (NFP) company that supports growers throughout the world to supply direct to UK retailers, and for retailers to deal direct with growers.

“Unlike an importer, the contract to supply is between the grower and the retailer, not with Berry Alliance. As an NFP, Berry Alliance can’t make a profit. It does not own the fruit and all supply chain savings, which are significant, are passed on as better prices to the retailer and enhanced returns to the grower. The model is entirely transparent, with the progress of orders and every penny in the process accessible to both parties, at all times.”

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APS Salads acquires North Bank Growers

According to Dutch media, The Greenery has sold NorthBank Growers to APS Salads.

The move comes after Cornerways Nursery last year decided not to renew its marketing agreement with the Dutch group, instead signing five year deal with Thanet Earth to sell its produce. According to a spokesperson The Greenery, which has owned NorthBank Growers since 2012, is currently sourcing other local producers in the UK to serve the British market.

APS Salads is the largest tomato grower in the UK. In May last year they purchased the Wight Salads Group, bringing their total area to 106 hectare, of which 46 is modern glass.

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Major international companies join AIPH

A number of major international companies and organisations which supply and support the global ornamental horticulture industry have recently joined the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) as Affiliate Members.

These include: PRIVA, the global supplier of climate and irrigation management control technology and software and Philips, suppliers of LED lighting technology for growers. Other new affiliate members include HortiAlliance, Doppelmayr and Val’hor, the umbrella organisation for ornamental horticulture in France. These businesses join MPS Sustainable Quality and Bavaria International Exhibition Organizing which were approved as Affiliate Members earlier in 2015.

AIPH President, Bernard Oosterom welcomed the new affiliate members saying, “I am pleased to see major international businesses like these joining AIPH. Together with the trade association members we will become an even stronger force in supporting ornamentals growers worldwide.”

AIPH Affiliate Membership costs €500 per year and is open to businesses related to the ornamental horticulture, exhibitions and landscape industry that would like to support the work of AIPH and utilise this extensive international network.

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£150K potato storage fellowship cultivates cutting edge fruit research

Dr Richard Colgan, of the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) is to build on crop storage work from the horticultural sector in one of three AHDB Potatoes awarded fellowships.

Using apparatus and expertise from the fruit sector, the three year programme will investigate the effects of mineral nutrition on the storage behaviour of tubers. Specifically, the work will examine resistance to senescent and low temperature sweetening, alongside the impact of respiration and diffusion characteristics on the long-term storage potential of tubers.

Assisting Dr Colgan in the project will be Cláudia Gonçalves da Silva Carvalho. She will initially undertake short placements within industry before commencing an 18 month postdoctoral position in the second half of the Fellowship.

Commenting on the project, Adrian Cunnington, head of the Sutton Bridge storage facility, said, “Potatoes coming out of storage have to meet specific customer quality levels or else be threatened with rejection. Having the ability to identify and assess threats and predict what happens next in storage helps growers to make the right choices to keep tuber quality consistent; and this project will bring forward the ability to make those decisions.”

Photo Credit: University of Greenwich

The post £150K potato storage fellowship cultivates cutting edge fruit research appeared first on Hort News on 10 Feb 2016.

Boost for UK crop science as NIAB and EMR join forces

Two of the best known names in UK crop research are to join forces.

Kent-based East Malling Research (EMR) has become part of the NIAB group in a move which claims it will strengthen NIAB’s ambition to lead the UK in crop innovation. According to the two organisations, EMR brings international leadership in top fruit and soft fruit research, complementing NIAB’s scientific expertise in arable crops, potatoes and ornamentals.

In research terms, the integration will align EMR’s internationally renowned capabilities in horticultural and environmental science, including expertise in plant breeding, soil science, water use and biological pest control, alongside NIAB’s existing strengths in genetics and pre-breeding, variety evaluation, agronomy research, precision farming and informatics.

The combined organisation, employing more than 300 staff and have a turnover in excess of £22 million. NIAB EMR will be established as a wholly owned subsidiary of NIAB, and will continue to operate from its existing site at East Malling in Kent.

CEO of the combined organisation, Dr Tina Barsby, commented, “This move creates a potent new force in independent applied research, bringing together the scientific expertise required to support progressive crop production at all levels, and represents a major step forward in NIAB’s plans. Our experience of merger and acquisition in recent years – including the successful integration of TAG and CUF as part of the NIAB business – puts us in a strong position to realise the full potential of a combined organisation.”

Photo Credit: NIAB

The post Boost for UK crop science as NIAB and EMR join forces appeared first on Hort News on 10 Feb 2016.

Another warning about Brexit and farming

The future of many UK farming businesses looks uncertain, according to a new report on the agricultural implications of leaving the EU by a University of Warwick academic.

In the report, Professor Wyn Grant of the University of Warwick and the Farmer-Scientist Network, considers topics including the impact on the single farm payment, regulation, plant protection, world trade, animal health and welfare and migrant labour.

Commissioned by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, which hosts the Network, it aims to inform and promote debate to highlight the issues which could potentially shape British agriculture.

Speaking in advance of the report’s publication on Thursday 4 February, Professor Grant said it was hard to see any advantage to British farmers in leaving the EU. In the event of a “yes” vote, the lack of contingency planning by the Government would inevitably lead to a period of great uncertainty, for at least two years, as the new regime took shape, making medium and long term planning for farmers extremely difficult, he said: “There is a perception in the industry that leaving the EU would reduce the burden of regulation. I do not think there will be a bonfire of regulations as the problem is not just from Brussels but from gold-plating by London. There are legal complexities which have not been considered.”

Nigel Pulling Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society commented, “While there is some dissatisfaction with Europe there is at least certainty. What this report has highlighted is the complexity of the number of different issues we are facing, but the Government hasn’t filled in any of the blanks.”

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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Farmers launch new traceability scheme

A new food traceability system developed by Gloucestershire farmers with widespread support from across the food industry will go live later this month on 19 February.

The promoters claim that Happerley Passports empowers farmers to control provenance at the point of production and consumers to instantly unlock the whole provenance story of their food with one unique traceability code. Every UK primary food producer will be invited to create a free Producer Passport and profile and invite all intermediaries and retailers whom they trade with into a visible supply chain to create one network.

Producers are then able to generate a unique traceability code online for every food batch leaving their holding. The codes are validated through the food chain by participating intermediaries and retailers.

Co-founders, farmers Matthew Rymer and Clifford Freeman, originally conceived the concept to provide the full story of the provenance behind each cut of Pedigree Gloucester Beef they sold., but following two years of development, including a significant investment in software and a collaboration agreement with The University of Aberdeen, they claim the system can be used by the whole food industry.

Photo Credit: Happerley Passports – Clifford Freeman

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NFU meets Defra to discuss trickle irrigation

An NFU delegation from the key intensive horticultural areas in England met with Defra officials within days of the launch of a new consultation on abstraction licensing.

A Defra consultation ‘Changes to water abstraction licensing exemptions’, was published on 15 January. The deadline for responses is 8 April.

David Long, Kent soft and top fruit grower and a member of the NFU Horticulture Board said that to continue to flourish, growers need secure access to water to grow fruit, and labour to harvest it.

Paul Hammett, NFU water resources specialist, said that growers at the Defra meeting were promised a ‘light touch and risk based approach’ to the future licensing of trickle irrigation. Arguably the most contentious of the Defra proposals is that the Environment Agency will have powers to apply environmental constraints to protect the environment by applying abstraction restrictions at low flows or during drought conditions.

Marion Regan who represents the soft fruit sector at AHDB Horticulture pointed to the recent shift to the use of coir-type substrates which have little or no water holding capacity: “Modern growing methods mean that water shortages cannot be tolerated, even over short periods of time. Restrictions in water availability would have a major impact on crop growth and business profitability and so provision must be made to accommodate protected crop production in the new licensing regime”, she said.

Photo Credit: East Malling Trust

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Earthworms could be a threat to biodiversity

The humble earthworm may be a threat to plant diversity in certain natural ecosystems says a new study.

Researchers from Université Laval and Université de Sherbrooke in Canada showed a correlation between the presence of these invertebrates and reductions in the abundance of certain tree and other plant species in the understory of sugar maple forests in southern Québec in Canada. However, this is situation is based on geography as earthworms were introduced to Canada from Europe.

“The most likely explanation is that the earthworms consume organic matter in forest litter,” suggests Line Lapointe, a professor at Université Laval’s Faculty of Science and Engineering and the study’s lead author. This results in soils that can’t hold as much moisture, and that in turn interferes with seed germination and the ability of some species’ plantlets to survive.”

The researchers added, ‘The earthworms found in [North American] lawns, gardens, and farmers’ fields, as well as those raised for bait, all belong to species that were brought here, intentionally or otherwise, by Europeans settlers. Their geographical distribution is closely tied to human activity.’

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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European Commission welcomes Indian apple market

The EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, has welcomed the announcement on the improved access to the Indian market for EU apple exports.

He said, “Improved access to the Indian market represents another positive step in finding alternative markets for EU producers, in light of the ongoing difficult market situation. Our efforts to break down any barriers to our agricultural exports and to open markets to our producers are ongoing, as part of the diplomatic offensive we are leading in 2016.”

While all access points were closed to apples imports since September 2015 with the exception of one port, as of the week ending 22 January, European producers can now get their apples into the Indian market through major sea ports and airports while the importation of apples is also allowed through India’s land borders.

The EU says that the Indian market has huge potential. While EU exports of apples to India amounted to only around 7,000 tonnes in 2014, provisional figures for 2015 show an increase to around 11,000 tonnes and India has the potential to absorb a higher share of EU exports given its moderate domestic apple production of around 1.5 million tonnes.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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