Monthly Archives: December 2017

Farmers warned of fake maps on Apps

The NFU has warned farmers and growers to check online apps for ‘fake footpaths’ after a network of unofficial paths was discovered covering farmland near Peterborough.

Zoe Mee of Lyveden Farm in Northamptonshire was shocked when a farm worker showed her a map on a social media app that depicted new routes for walkers alongside the farm’s existing rights of way. After contacting mapping app producers, she believes walkers may have added their own routes for people to use, without distinguishing them from the legally-established footpaths.

“I can’t believe that people can just add routes across your land like this,” she said. “We have people who shoot pigeons and rabbits on the farm to protect crops and they are given maps of all the official footpaths and bridleways to ensure they keep clear of the public. If online maps are directing people away from the official routes it is putting them at risk.”

NFU Access Adviser Martin Rogers said the NFU was talking to a number of organisations that produce maps on mobile apps, to raise awareness of the importance of accurately portraying the right of way network.

“Checking online apps, and getting in contact with their owners, are important steps when you believe there are errors on their system,” he said. “If you do discover that routes have erroneously been added to mobile apps, it is important to make it clear that you do not intend to dedicate these routes as legal rights of way.”

Photo Credit: NFU

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Sainsbury’s wants new product ideas from produce suppliers

Sainsbury’s has asked its suppliers to bring forward ideas for new products and innovations as it tries to differentiate itself in the marketplace.

Speaking at the retailer’s annual Farming Conference, Produce technologist Lily Peck said her remit is to “look for something different.”

She added, “Any great ideas you have, talk to your technical manager about it and help us differentiate our range.” She cited the launch of bunched radishes (supplied by G’s grower Scott Watson) and sweet-stemmed cauliflower as particular successes.

However, the retailer also confirmed that a major overhaul of suppliers is continuing as the company aims to have ‘fewer and longer-term relationships,’ shifting towards direct grower sourcing.

Sainsbury’s director of brand Judith Batchelar said, “While our competitors will have been buying their own packaging facilities and performing that part in the value chain themselves, the way we’ve looked at it is much more direct relationships with growers.”

Product Manager Sarah Blandford described a three-year project with potato supplier Greenvale to improve production efficiencies: “We had four times as many potato growers as we needed for our 52-week supply requirements. We had some fantastic growers and we had some good growers.” She added that Sainsbury’s looks for suppliers who are proactively monitoring things like yield potential.

Photo Caption: Sainsbury’s Product Manager Sarah Blandford

Photo Credit: Richard Crowhurst

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Californian lettuce growers embracing robotic harvesting

One of America’s largest salad producers, California-based Taylor Farms, is increasingly using robotics to tackle the twin challenges of labour availability and increasing costs.

The company, which employs a total of 10,000 people, is using robotic harvesting rigs on some crops of Romaine and baby leaf lettuce and it says that the use of robotics is growing in the entire Californian lettuce industry. Around 95 per cent of the company’s Romaine volume is currently harvested with automated harvesters, and trials are being conducted on a number of other crops.

“Harvesting, one of the more difficult in-field jobs to perform, was a natural area of focus for us,” explains Ted Taylor, Head of New Ventures & Business Development. “Over the last eight years we have designed and built advanced machinery to optimize harvest efficiency and drive improved ergonomics for employees. This has truly been a win-win. We have been able to offer better jobs to our field employees, all while driving bottom line performance. We will continue to aggressively pursue automated harvesting functions for all our core products.”

Photo Credit: Taylor Farms

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