Monthly Archives: November 2016

Sainsbury’s introduces anti-greening pack for potatoes

As part of its ‘Save Our Spuds’ campaign, Sainsbury’s has introduced new packaging which will prevent potatoes from going green and developing a bitter taste. Designed to be 100% opaque – whilst still breathable – the new packaging prevents any light from reaching the produce, the most common culprit for greening.

The green discolouration develops thanks to a build-up of solanine which is triggered by too much light. The retailer estimates that this is responsible for the wasting of 5.8 million potatoes every day.

Jane Skelton, Head of Packaging for Sainsbury’s, commented, “Potatoes are a British favourite. But exposure to sunlight means many of our spuds never make it to the table. That’s why we’re calling ‘lights out’ in our latest effort to help tackle food waste. We’re confident that this will improve the shelf-life of our potatoes and, while the packaging might be opaque, we’re hoping the results will be clear to see.”

The new packaging will be rolled out across Sainsbury’s stores, across King Edwards and Lady Balfour potatoes – two varieties which are most susceptible to greening. The retailer continues to recommend that all potatoes should be kept in a cool, dark place.

Photo Caption: Lady Balfour and King Edwards will be the first to benefit from the new packaging

This story first appeared on HortNews.

NIAB EMR consortium wins crop research funding

An industry consortium, led by Berry Gardens Growers Ltd (BGG) and NIAB EMR, has won a BBSRC collaborative training partnership (CTP) award to provide a £1.9 million postgraduate programme for scientific research on fruit crops.

The programme, which will be based at NIAB EMR in Kent and run from October 2017 to September 2023, includes 16 four-year PhD studentships in core research areas such as plant breeding, plant pathology, entomology, soil science, plant physiology and crop agronomy.

Dr Nicola Harrison, NIAB EMR CTP science co-ordinator, said, “The CTP award will help us produce an innovative and exceptional postgraduate research training programme that will engage and train the next generation of scientists to deliver strategic research that will help secure the future of UK horticulture. Researchers from Cambridge, Nottingham and Reading, and colleagues at NIAB EMR, will produce a research portfolio that ensures the translation of cutting-edge research through to the wider industry.”

The industry partners forming the consortium span the supply chain and include Berry Gardens Growers Ltd, Worldwide Fruit Ltd, M&W Mack Ltd, Univeg UK Ltd, and the National Association of Cider Makers, as well as Marks & Spencer plc. The over-arching knowledge exchange capability is provided by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

BGG’s Richard Harnden said, “This pioneering partnership between businesses, research providers and AHDB will provide a world-class horticultural and bioscience UK research training programme to address the scientific challenges faced by agri-businesses, from crop production, food quality and supply, through to consumer preference and reducing waste in the supply chain.”

Photo Caption: East Malling will be the base for the new students

Photo Credit: NIAB EMR

This story first appeared on HortNews.

LED lights attract fewer insects than other lights

New research from the University of Bristol has revealed that domestic LED lights are much less attractive to nuisance insects such as biting midges than traditional filament lamps.

Although the initial findings are of interest in terms of public health and preventing the spread of diseases such as malaria and Zika fever, there may be implications for the use of beneficial insects and pollinators in horticulture.

The study, which was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and UK lighting manufacturer Integral LED, used customised traps at 18 field test sites across south-west England. Over 4,000 insects were carefully identified and overall LEDs attracted four times fewer insects compared with traditional incandescent lamps, and half as many as were attracted to a compact fluorescent lamp.

Dr Andy Wakefield led the field research and said, “We were surprised by the number of biting flies drawn to the traditional tungsten lights. We do not know why this is but we know that some insects use thermal cues to find warm-blooded hosts in the night, so perhaps they were attracted to the heat given off by the filament bulb.”

Photo Caption: Research shows that LEDs attract fewer biting insects like mosquitoes than tungsten lamps

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

This post first appeared on HortNews.

Are you an innovative farmer?

Are you interested in innovation and trying new techniques? Do you perform your own on-farm trials or develop novel solutions to practical problems? If so, you might be eligible to take part in the Innovative Farmers programme.

Part of the Duchy Future Farming Programme and funded by the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, the scheme aims to bring together and support farmers who want to test the latest thinking on their farm. The network is backed by a team from LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), Innovation for Agriculture, the Organic Research Centre and the Soil Association, and supported by Waitrose.

It works by bringing together groups of farmers with researchers from top agricultural institutions in practical ‘field labs’. This means you can get reliable results and practical solutions to the challenges your business is facing. Over the last three years 750 farmers and growers have been involved in 35 different field labs covering topics from antibiotic use in dairy cattle to controlling blackgrass.

Half the farmers who have taken part say they have made changes to their farming practices as a result of being involved in the field labs, with nine out of ten saying they learned something from the experience.

Membership of the scheme costs £240 plus VAT per year, although sponsorship of up to £2,000 may be available for groups of up to 24 farmers. Participating groups can get up to £10,000 research funding per field lab.

The scheme can match farmers and growers with the necessary expertise and interest to set up a new field lab, or put them in touch with an appropriate existing one. For more information on the scheme, visit:

This post first appeared on HortNews.