Nine new panel members have joined AHDB Horticulture and are set to help drive the UK industry forward and ensure businesses are fit for the future challenges that lie ahead.
Starting in January 2018 for a three-year term, the new panel members will provide expert advice and insight to help inform the organisation’s strategy.
The panels will also play a critical role in assessing and planning strategic research projects that directly impact horticultural businesses.
Emily Livesey, Fruit Manager at Lower Hope Fruit Ltd and new AHDB tree fruit panel member, said: “I believe the panel can really help the industry by continuing their support of research into issues such as improvements to soils, pests and diseases and technology advancement to help improve productivity and quality to help growers remain profitable in testing times.
“The clear challenge over the next three years will be having enough seasonal labour. The industry will need to change and look to innovation to help address that challenge.”
James Moffatt, James Coles Nursery and new AHDB hardy nursery stock panel member, said: “In order to combat the issues of staffing, I would like to see the industry embrace technology and mechanisation as much as possible to ensure all areas of any business run as lean and as efficiently as possible.
“AHDB is and needs to keep on looking at this side of the industry. I was interested to learn that AHDB is funding research into robotics specifically targeted at horticulture; I’m sure this will have benefit to the growers if not now, then in the near future.”
Steve Tones, Strategy Director at AHDB said, “It is always a great pleasure to welcome a new intake of panel members. Their enthusiasm and passion is inspiring, and the fresh knowledge and insight they bring is vital to the continued relevance, impact and value of our work on crop protection, labour, genetics, soil and nutrition.”
Dr Georgina Key, resource management scientist at AHDB, said: “New panel members change the dynamic of the existing panels, bringing new perspectives and highlighting new challenges. It’s great to have that shakeup; it makes us reassess what, and how, we are delivering.”
AHDB Horticulture’s strategic key priorities are: extending the available range of plant protection products, adding depth and breadth to the industry’s expertise and knowledge, and tackling the rising cost of human labour.
The nine new members will represent the industry on five panels: field vegetables; protected edibles and mushrooms; tree fruit; hardy nursery stock; and protected ornamentals and bulbs & outdoor flowers.
The panel members were selected following an application process which ran until October 2017.
To see the full list of AHDB Horticulture panel members and find out how to get in touch with your sector representatives, visit: horticulture.ahdb.org.uk.