Monthly Archives: July 2018

New emissions targets could cripple farming

Farming leaders across the UK have warned that the industry must not be sacrificed in order to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets in the wake of the latest report from the Committee on Climate Change.

In its latest publication, Reducing UK emissions – 2018 Progress Report to Parliament, amongst other things, the Committee warned that large reductions in emissions from power generation had masked a lack of progress in other sectors, including agriculture, and that the sector now accounted for 10 per cent of total UK GHG emissions.

Excluding transport, agricultural greenhouse gas emissions were 46.5 MtCO2e in 2016, broadly unchanged from 2015. Emissions are 16 per cent lower than in 1990, but there has been no progress in reducing emissions in this sector since 2008. Around half come from livestock, and a quarter from soil management, with the rest coming from manure management and machinery.

However, Jim McLaren of Quality Meat Scotland said, “Setting a legal net zero target now would require 16,000 ha of woodland planting per year, the use of GM crop technology and zero livestock production.” He added that current methods for assessing agricultural GHG emissions are “not fit for purpose.”

The post New emissions targets could cripple farming appeared first on Hort News on 9 July 2018.

British farmers need to keep up to speed on CAP reform

Farm business advisors at Strutt & Parker have warned UK farmers to continue to be aware of proposed changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) even as the UK prepares for Brexit.

The firm recently highlighted some of the key proposed changes to the CAP for 2021 to 2027 in a briefing paper published on its website. Amongst the key proposals is ‘greater power for Member States to design their own policies, under both Pillars 1 and 2’ which will see ‘each country producing a ‘CAP Strategic Plan’, which sets out how it will meet nine EU-wide objectives.’

In terms of funding, direct payments will be capped at €100,000 (£87,000) and payments above €60,000 will be subject to regression reductions. Overall the budget for Pillar 1 payments will see an 11 per cent reduction in real terms, while Pillar 2 will see a cut of 27 per cent.

Chair of Strutt & Parker’s Farm Research Group, George Chichester said, “These changes are important to the UK as it is still unclear when a British farming policy will apply from, given major uncertainties remaining in the UK-EU withdrawal negotiations, and so we may have to comply with these rules until our British policy is ready.”

The post British farmers need to keep up to speed on CAP reform appeared first on Hort News on 9 July 2018.

Lettuce supplies short due to heat

Lettuce growers in the UK and further afield have warned of shortages as the hot weather and lack of rain continue for the foreseeable future.

With this summer already being claimed as the hottest since 1976, wholesale prices for lettuce and some brassicas have spiked, while home-grown and imported fruit such as strawberries and melons are also attracting high prices.

“Cabbages and icebergs are suffering because they’re getting cooked in the field, prices are tremendously high. The price of lettuce has gone from £4.80 per box to £9.60,” Chris Hutchinson, owner of Arthur Hutchinson Ltd at New Spitalfields Market.

Spokesman for the British Leafy Salad Growers Association, Dieter Lloyd, said that record sales of 18 million heads of lettuce (a 40 per cent increase on the previous year) together with hot conditions which were preventing growth could lead to a shortage of the crop.

“While it is great news that leafy salad sales are up around 40 per cent across all retailers, that’s just half the story. The record temperatures have stopped the UK lettuce crop growing. When the mercury hits 30 degrees Celsius lettuces can’t grow,” he said. In all of the major growing areas, from Cupar in Fife, through Preston, Lancs, to Ely in East Anglia and Chichester, Sussex, the hot weather has affected all our growers and we may be seeing some gaps on retailers’ shelves in the next two weeks as the heat wave continues.”

The post Lettuce supplies short due to heat appeared first on Hort News on 9 July 2018.

Co-op suppliers set up ‘bee roads’

Farmer suppliers to the Co-op have planted more than 1,000 miles of hedgerows to form part of a network of ‘bee’ roads across the UK.

Using its new environmental-impact measurement tool Enviro-Map, the Co-op says that seven different producer groups have created the following environmental features:

  • 1000 miles (1633 km) of hedgerows which are actively managed across the farming groups
  • 1,400 hectares of native, coniferous and broadleaf woodland
  • 455 hectares of watercourses and wetlands
  • 116 hectares of wildflower meadows
  • 100 devices, such as bird boxes, bee hives and beetle banks, on farms to encourage wildlife

Matt Hood, Co-op’s trading director, said: “The need to create a more sustainable approach to farming and food production is just as important as producing high-quality; fairly-priced food and we can only achieve this with regular and reliable measurement of our producers. We are delighted to see that in year one alone, they are already offsetting their farming practises by contributing heavily to improved biodiversity levels which are so utterly critical to the air we breathe and the water we drink.”

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The post Co-op suppliers set up ‘bee roads’ appeared first on Hort News on 21 June 2018.

New tomato harvesting robot tested

Israeli start-up MetoMotion hopes that its new Greenhouse Robotic Worker (GRoW), which is described as ‘a multipurpose robotic intensive system for labor-intensive tasks in greenhouses’ will impress industrial users with the ability to harvest tomatoes.

The company currently has a patent pending for its 3D Vision System is to detect ripe fruit and calculates their location. The system designed to locate a stem without the need for exact data and to cut and catch fruits in a single operation. The company says the unit will also clear away obstacles and will not damage plant or fruit.

“With GRoW, we’ve tried to solve a complex problem in a smart, simple and effective manner,” says MetoMotion CEO Adi Nir. “The system is designed for a simple operation and a smooth integration into an existing greenhouse infrastructure and practice. We want to reduce the limitations and the high costs associated with human labour in greenhouse vegetable production.” However, the machine is still some way from commercialisation, with the developers seeking to raise $1.5 million in funding, together with another $1 million from government grants.

MetoMotion is not the only company working to robotically harvest greenhouse crops. In July, Wageningen University & Research (WUR) will be demonstrating the SWEEPER pepper harvesting robot in the commercial greenhouse of ‘De Tuindershoek’ in Ijsselmuiden, the Netherlands. According to WUR, the SWEEPER robot is the first sweet pepper harvesting robot in the world to be demonstrated in a commercial greenhouse.

Photo Caption: Render of the GRoW robot

Photo Credit: MetoMotion

The post New tomato harvesting robot tested appeared first on Hort News on 21 June 2018.

EU farm groups call for end to uncertainties

European farming groups have united to urge the European Union to minimise the impact of uncertainties on trade and Brexit, and to call for more coherent European policies.

Speaking in Brussels after a meeting with 66 presidents of farmers and cooperative organisations across the EU, president of European farm union Copa, Joachim Rukwied, warned, “We are disappointed with the EU Commission proposal on the future CAP. It is unacceptable that more and more is being asked of farmers in terms of respecting tough food safety, welfare and environmental requirements for less and less money. Another major concern is the fact that the technology toolbox that farmers rely on to maintain their competitiveness is being eroded every day. We are very proud of our production standards. More coherence between policies is vital to ensure that they are maintained.

“We cannot accept that our standards in the trade talks with the Latin American trade bloc Mercosur are weakened or that our farmers are penalised for respecting them by being subject to unfair competition. Trade concessions must be minimized for our more sensitive sectors.”

Cogeca president Thomas Magnusson added, “It is in our common interest to develop good, balanced trading relations between the farming community in the EU and other parts of the world. The potential misuse of free trade agreements by our trading partners could seriously undermine the credibility of these agreements.”

 Photo Credit: Copa Cogeca

The post EU farm groups call for end to uncertainties appeared first on Hort News on 21 June 2018.

Industry getting ready for Fruit Focus

As preparations for Fruit Focus on 25th July continue, the event, which is expected to connect more than 1,300 visitors to over 120 exhibitors, says it will focus on the continued evolution of the UK fruit industry as it faces climate change, Brexit, new technology and irrigation challenges.

The event will give growers the chance to see the latest innovation in water use and irrigation in the Water Efficient Technologies (WET) Centre. Opened last year, it features a fully automated Precision Irrigation Package, which has proven to reduce the use of water, fertilisers, pesticides and energy by 20% while also delivering up to a 10% increase in strawberry yields. With new abstraction licenses on the horizon, the area is sure to be popular.

Event hosts NIAB EMR will also be holding a forum looking at precision growing of soft fruit, encompassing new innovations and technologies to enhance crop productivity, resilience and quality. The ever-popular research tours will include the research vineyard, WET centre and concept pear orchard. “NIAB EMR’s showpiece demonstration feature, the WET Centre, is in its first full year of production, and we are anticipating a heavy crop of Malling™ Centenary,” comments Prof Mario Caccamo, managing director at NIAB EMR.

Other attractions include the NFU Forum and tours looking at strawberry pollination and the ‘concept pear orchard.’ Tickets are on sale now.

Photo Credit: Fruit Focus

The post Industry getting ready for Fruit Focus appeared first on Hort News on 21 June 2018.

Huntapac Bike Ride for Charity

Huntapac Managing Director Warren Hunter and Technical Director Stephen Shields plan to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats in just two weeks from the 5 July to raise money for a number of good causes including local children’s hospice Derian House, Lupus UK, Mere Brow and District Institute, and a little girl with a genetic disease.

“The community aspect of our business is very important,” comments Stephen. “It’s 1,178 miles in total, or an average of 85 miles a day.” For more information or to donate, visit;

The post Huntapac Bike Ride for Charity appeared first on Hort News on 20 June 2018.

Effectively recovering product from pasteurisers and sterilisers

A key challenge in the food industry is recovering valuable product which is left in equipment and pipework after production runs, for example between product change-overs and before cleaning. Product lost in this way increases operating costs unnecessarily and affects beverage manufactures to sauce producers, fruit and vegetable purées, and many other products.

Companies often use ‘pigging’ systems to remove such retained product, particularly in the last portions of their production process. Some of these systems are very simple, while others can be very complex. The pigging device physically recovers material from the system and is often an integral part of CIP (Cleaning in Place) cycles. Other alternatives are to use water or clean air to ‘push’ the product through the system until such time as the product is either too diluted or the product seal in the pipework is broken.

All three of these approaches will salvage some residual product, but a certain amount of usable product will inevitably be lost as waste. However, by using inline measurement and automatic control, you can guarantee that the maximum amount of product possible is recovered from pasteurisers and sterilisers in the production line.

Re-using an established concept

The concept of a feedback loop to continually measure and control a process is well established in automated food production. For example, every HRS pasteuriser or steriliser has a temperature transmitter and a three-way valve installed after the holding tube. If, for any reason, the set pasteurisation or sterilisation temperature is not maintained in the holding tube, the temperature transmitter sends a signal to the valve to return the product back to the holding tank.

This prevents any product that may not have been adequately pasteurised or sterilised entering the food chain and allows products to be recovered and reworked if appropriate. The same principle can be applied to universal product recovery, measuring different parameters.

Some practical examples

If we imaging a fruit juice production line, an inline Brix meter positioned after the pasteuriser can monitor the sugar concentration against a target level of 12 oBx (the set point). When the concentration falls below the set point, a controller diverts the remaining product away from the filler.

Such an approach overcomes any doubts about where the ‘mixing zone’ may begin when water is used to push product through the system as it can be accurately measured in situ. In addition to maximising product recovery, the waste being produced will be cleaner (as there is less product in it), potentially reducing disposal or treatment costs.

In the previous example we have used an inline Brix meter to measure sugar concentration, but it is possible to use a suitable device to measure any physical property (pH, viscosity, density) depending on the best criteria for the product.

For example, a US manufacturer of BBQ sauces makes a profit of $2 on every gallon of sauce produced. If the company loses 100 gallons of sauce per day, profits decrease by $200 per day. Based on 300 days of production a year, this equals $60,000 dollars a year. If this was repeated across four production lines the company could be losing almost a quarter million dollars ($240,000), not to mention the costs of treating and disposing of the wasted product. Even a 50% reduction on waste across all lines would save $120,000 a year, covering the costs for the installation of a system.

Using the system in practice

These examples have focused on the end-of-run condition for processing. However, this system also helps reduce product loss on start-up. For example, if a production line is ‘warmed up’ with water, the water is typically ‘pushed’ out by the product until a certain condition is reached. This system accurately establishes when that point occurs, eliminating the guesswork and automatically saving even more usable product each run.

This type of system can be installed with any existing system (pasteuriser, steriliser, hot filling) with very little downtime. Real world payback times will depend on the quality of the instrument used and the value of the product, but average payback periods are between 1 and 6 months. In addition to improving bottom line profits, there are also environmental benefits. Recovering more product saves on energy required to process waste streams, reducing waste and lowering the carbon footprint.

HRS Heat Exchangers have successfully installed several of these systems in plants around the world, helping clients choose the right instrumentation and the correct software for the system. If you have a project that involves product recovery or you are interested in learning more, please contact us.

The post Effectively recovering product from pasteurisers and sterilisers appeared first on HRS Heat Exchangers

Industry prepares for British Flowers Week

British Flowers week begins on 18 June and this year is supported by the Flower Market at New Covent Garden Market, Flowers from the Farm and the British Florist Association.

2018 marks the sixth year of the campaign, and events to celebrate the UK cut flower industry include a Farmer Florist exhibition at Ryedale Folk Museum in North Yorkshire, a ‘flower bomb’ of British blooms in Edinburgh’s Old Town, and six innovative installations at the Garden Museum.

Started by New Covent Garden Flower Market in 2013, British Flowers Week is an annual celebration of the wealth and variety of British cut flowers and foliage. Last year’s campaign saw over 35 British Flowers Week workshops, talks, pop-up shops and floral demonstrations taking place around the country. This year tools for florists include free gift tags and posters, as well as using the hashtag #BritishFlowersWeek to connect on social media channels.

Helen Evans, of New Covent Garden Market, commented, “British Flowers Week is a great opportunity to raise awareness of some of the people and businesses that continue to make the creativity and excellence in the British floristry industry second to none, with the industry worth £2.2 billion.”

Photo Caption: Veevers Carter are one of the florists producing an installation at the Garden Museum

Photo Credit: Veevers Carter

The post Industry prepares for British Flowers Week appeared first on Hort News on 14 June 2018.