Monthly Archives: March 2016

New measures to control Epitrix in Scotland

New measures have come into place to protect the UK potato industry from the threat of Epitrix beetles.

EU emergency measures are already in place requiring potatoes moving from an effected area to be either washed or brushed to remove excess soil. However, there have been nine UK interceptions of Epitrix damaged potatoes, leading Defra to introduce a requirement, through the Plant Health (England) (Amendment) Order 2016, that all potatoes from Spain must be washed before being exported to the UK. This requirement came into effect on 24 February 2016. The aim is to kill or remove any Epitrix which might be present, as well as removing soil in which some life stages of the pest could be present.

Following a consultation by the Scottish Government in November last year, similar legislation will come into effect for Scottish landing ports from 21 March 2016.


Photo Credit: Defra (© Conceição Boavida Instituto Nacional de Recursos Biológicos, Portugal)

The post New measures to control Epitrix in Scotland appeared first on Hort News on 26 Feb 2016.

Asda asks for supplier payments as profits fall

Asda boss Andy Clarke has said the company will lead the UK supermarket industry in the long term, despite the firm posting the worst quarterly drop in earnings in its history.

The 5.8 per cent fall in fourth-quarter sales, which included the crucial Christmas trading period, was the sixth straight quarterly decline posted by the retailer and was the worst set of Christmas trading figures from the major UK supermarkets.

Mr Clarke said, “In the long run we’ll win in this market. Market share is important to us … But what’s more important is financial control and stability. That’s going to give us an advantage to win in this market.” The company has said it will invest £1 billion to help price cuts, but has recently been reported as requesting help from suppliers.

An unnamed source told the Guardian that suppliers had been asked for “significant amounts of money”, adding, “Individual suppliers are being asked for millions of pounds and asked what they want in return.”

However, the retailer said it wanted to work collaboratively and wasn’t asking suppliers to hit a particular price point. It also said it was working with Groceries Code Adjudicator Christine Tacon to ensure it complied fully with the code.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The post Asda asks for supplier payments as profits fall appeared first on Hort News.

Robot farming trials begin in Peak District

Trials have begun in the Peak District of a new autonomous farming robot which is designed to drive itself around steep grassland identifying and destroying weeds.

The machine has been created by the IBEX project, a consortium of SMEs who design and build advanced agricultural robotics. Co-funded by Innovate UK, the robot uses a precision arm to be as accurate as human sprayers when targeting weeds.

Although currently focused on weed control on remote hillsides which are uneconomical or too dangerous to spray manually the project could have implications for other areas of agriculture and horticulture.

The developers claim that using the robot could reduce fuel and labour costs as well as reducing the environmental impact from herbicides. “IBEX is the first agricultural robot designed to tackle extreme agricultural environments such the Yorkshire hill farms,” said Dr Charles Fox, project manager of IBEX at Hunshelf Hall Farm. “Taking the concept beyond university labs and overcoming extreme terrain mobility limitations, we designed and built IBEX to military standards, to go where other vehicles can’t operate and to tackle a real world problem affecting many farmers around the UK. We have a very interested and active user group of local farmers and we’re continually using their advice.”

Photo Credit: The IBEX Project

The post Robot farming trials begin in Peak District appeared first on Hort News on 23 Feb 2016.

EAPR announces Post Harvest Meeting

The European Association for Potato Research (EAPR) has announced further details of its Post Harvest Section meeting which will be held at the end of June in Wageningen in The Netherlands.

EAPR is inviting contributions on a range of post-harvest topics, but some of the key issues it hopes to investigate include: the needs of the fresh and/or seed potato market for control of storage diseases or to address trade barriers; and how to reduce waste and losses. Another topic will consider fresh market requirements in terms of residues, quality parameters and factors affecting shelf‐life and what can be achieved by changing storage practices?

The meeting will be held on the 29-30 June. To register your interest in the meeting or for any other enquiries please email

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

The post EAPR announces Post Harvest Meeting appeared first on Hort News on 23 Feb 2016.