AHDB launch four new Strategic Centres for field vegetable crops

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Field vegetable producers are set to benefit from four new centres that will demonstrate the latest horticultural research in practice.

Launched this year, AHDB Horticulture’s Strategic Centres for Field Vegetables will showcase the latest ideas, science and technology to improve integrated pest management (IPM) strategies.

Located across the UK the demonstration sites will specifically focus on carrots, peas, onions and brassicas. They will build on the success of AHDB’s variety trial programme, which has been running for over 20 years, by expanding to incorporate grower-led research trials.

Dr Dawn Teverson, knowledge exchange manager at AHDB, said: “This is a great opportunity for us to show research in practice to encourage the industry to adopt new ideas. And it’s also an important way for us to work in partnership with growers to run demonstration trials showcasing solutions to the issues and challenges that are most pressing for them.”

Trials in the four centres will cover a range of topics to support IPM programmes, including; timing fungicide applications based on disease monitoring and forecasting, testing novel plant protection products, and developing an app to create UK pest distribution maps.

In addition to the established variety evaluation trials that are prized and trusted by the industry, further trials for 2019 include drilling depths and crop establishment for carrots and crop spacing to produce the required bulb size for onions. 

Martin Evans, managing director at Freshgro and chair of AHDB’s Field Vegetable Panel, said: “These centres create the perfect opportunity for grower-to-grower learning by allowing us to informally share and discuss our experiences from the current season with each other.

“The demonstration trials and events will look at the whole crop management, from nutrients, water use, to pest management and will help the industry improve productivity.”

The variety trials, funded by AHDB, provide independent performance evaluation of yield, quality, shelf-life and storage potential. New varieties help to improve the continuity of supply to supermarkets, so shoppers can continue to have great quality products available for more of the year. Understanding how well varieties will keep in storage also helps to reduce waste in the supply chain. In previously funded AHDB variety trials, there was a 70% difference in how well onions lasted in store between the best and worst varieties.

Dawn added: “This is just the start, we’re excited to build on the capacity of the Strategic Centres for Field Vegetables and we hope to extend the number of locations around the UK in future years. An important element of these centres is that trials are grower-led, it’s growers who are recommending which trials they would like to see on their farms.”

Growers, seed companies and agronomists will be able to view the trials at open days and events throughout the year. Visit ahdb.org.uk/farm-excellence to find out more or contactdawn.teverson@ahdb.org.uk.

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