The UK should commit to growing the supply of UK Fruit and Veg and using them more in everyday foods. This was a key recommendation from the RSA’s Food, Farming and Countryside Commission report, Our Future Our Land, published earlier this week.
Welcoming the report British Growers Association Ltd Chief Executive, Jack Ward said ‘ this recommendation mirrors the message we have been putting out, that the UK needs to take on board the advice to increase the proportion of fruit and veg we consume and to think long and hard about what the UK needs to do to increase the volumes of fruit and veg grown here in the UK’.
Slowly but surely, we are seeing an alignment around growing and consuming more fruit and veg. As we move away from the constraints of the CAP and towards a more UK orientated agricultural policy, there is the option to take a long hard look at how more support and encouragement can be given to the production of fruit and veg.
Research and innovation, labour and skills and capital investment will be critical to maintaining a vibrant, sustainable and profitable fresh produce industry in the future. In season, the UK can compete with the best in the world, providing UK consumers with a great choice of high-quality fruit and veg with known provenance.
The RSA Commission report underlines everything we have been saying about the opportunities which should lie ahead for the UK fresh produce industry.
The RSA’s Food, Farming and Countryside Commission’s report, Our Future in the Land, sets out radical and practical ways for policymakers, businesses and communities to respond to the challenges for our food systems, countryside and rural communities.
For more details about the report see www.thersa.org
For further information please contact Jack Ward, CEO British Growers Association Ltd on 07799 757778 firstname.lastname@example.org
Peas Please Receives Significant Big Lottery Funding
Peas Please announced last week that the National Lottery Community Fund will be supporting the campaign to continue and expand its work to increase vegetable consumption in the UK over the next four years. T. A big thank you to the National Lottery Community Fund.
As part of its next phase, Peas Please plans to create a new generation of food system agents of change – Veg Advocates – working at a national and community level. These citizen participants will play a key role in helping to ensure that Peas Please pledges deliver meaningful impact.
In the 2.5 years since Peas Please was launched, it has secured 47 pledges of action from businesses operating along the supply chain and commitments from 21 city partnerships. The project has established its monitoring system and published its first Progress Report which showed that 4.8milllion additional portions have already been consumed as a result of Peas Please. The programme also initiated and incubated the Veg Power fund which has just launched a £10m veg advertising campaign, in partnership with ITV, aimed at school children.
The British Growers team have made it through the Race for Life, Pretty Mudder raising £759.00. The team battled their way through mud pools, under cargo netting and over obstacles they looked filthy by the time they were through.
We would like to thank everyone who supported the team, donating money and cheering them on during the day.
British Growers is pleased to publicise that The Food Foundation is hiring. This small, influential organisation working on food policy is looking to fill an exciting new Project & Office Manager position. The role requires both leadership and project management drive for a major system-wide initiative on vegetable consumption, and will include overseeing the smooth running of the organisation’s administrative systems.
Jack Ward has been in meetings with officials from the Home Office looking for practical solutions to the challenge of securing adequate numbers of seasonal workers in the future. Jack explained that the meeting was part of a series of meetings held with Govt Depts and the Edible Horticulture Round Table of which he is the co-chair. The meeting was set up at the request of the Home Office and formed part of their consultation on the White Paper on Immigration published at the end of 2018.
The Government is keen to find a balance between the need for greater control over the numbers of non UK nationals seeking work the UK and the needs of industry. We used the meeting to highlight that the use of seasonal workers makes minimal difference to the numbers seeking to settle permanently in the UK. In the vast majority of cases, seasonal workers come to the UK and return home when the work runs out at the end of the season. The immigration Bill is likely to complete its passage through parliament later this year. The Bill will be largely enabling legislation and the detail will follow in 2020 once the consultation on the fine print is complete.
The Environment Secretary Michael Gove has commissioned a yearlong review of the UK’s National Food position. The review will be led by Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon restaurants, the lead non-executive director at Defra and co-author of The School Food Plan. The review will be a part of developing a National Food Strategy.
“No part of our economy matters more than food. It is vital for life, and for pleasure. It shapes our sense of family, community and nation: cooking and eating together is perhaps the defining communal act. The food system also provides jobs for one in eight of us.”
“Leaving the EU is a great opportunity for British farmers and food producers. But with an expanding population, the urgent threat of climate change and rising levels of diet-related disease, we face many challenges too. That is why the time is right for us to look afresh at our food system to ensure everyone has access to high-quality British food and our environment is protected for future generations. I am delighted that Henry Dimbleby will be leading this once-in-a-generation opportunity to cultivate a stronger food system for the future.”
Rt Hon Michael Gove MP Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
The INNO-VEG project is developing innovative methods for carrying out research into field vegetable and potato crops. The four-year project began in August 2018. This year, a programme of 48 field experiments has been set up in the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands to develop an overarching protocol for integrating crop sensing data into field research methodologies. ADAS, an RSK company, leads the project in the UK; the partners are Inagro in Belgium, Delphy in the Netherlands and ARVALIS – Institut du vegetal in France.
Reliable research methods are crucial to underpin the evidence base needed to meet the challenges of sustainable intensification of field vegetable and potato production. The project will evaluate the suitability of using crop sensing data to assess treatment differences in field experiments. Project lead and ADAS soil scientist Lizzie Sagoo explains, “We know that crop sensing data, for example, from drones or tractor-mounted sensors, can show up differences in crop performance across a field. We want to see whether these techniques accurately assess final crop yields. If they do, they can be used instead of the labour-intensive and expensive standard field assessments.”
Traditional crop research relies on replicated treatments in small plots and intensive measurements. It is usually led and delivered by agronomy, consultancy or academic organisations. Consequently, farmers typically only host experiments. They do not play active roles in the research, neither applying the treatments nor assessing their effectiveness. Moreover, this research model is expensive, and the budget is limited for research on field vegetable and potato crops.
“If we can show that crop sensing data can be used to assess differences in crop treatments, we can upscale to split-field or tramline comparisons. Then, we can adopt a farmer-led approach to delivering research in this sector. The model will enable farmers to apply treatments to different areas of a field using their own farm equipment and carry out accurate measurements using high-resolution crop data,” says Sagoo.
“We have developed approaches to bring scientific rigour to farmer-led research in combinable crops like wheat,” ADAS head of agronomics Daniel Kindred continues. “Treatments can be set up in line trials and statistically compared using yield maps from a combine harvester. The main barrier to adopting this approach is that yield mapping, although technically possible, is very rarely used for field vegetable crops. However, high-resolution spatial crop imagery can be easily collected during the growing season from all field vegetable crops. If this can be used as an indicator or a proxy for the final crop output, it can also enable field-scale research.”
In 2020, field validation experiments will test the protocol developed during 2019 in the field-scale research experiments to develop a framework for farmer-led research. The framework will then be tested in farmer-led field experiments during 2021. Information collected from farmer groups and field testing will be used to refine the framework to ensure the outputs are presented in formats that are easily understandable and written in sufficient detail to facilitate the adoption of the farmer-led approach.
This project brings together an internationally respected group of researchers with extensive experience of field vegetable and potato production systems, crop sensing techniques, spatial data analysis and on-farm advice. “Our ultimate aim is to provide farmers with a methodology for carrying out research on their own farms, where they can test new approaches such as varieties, establishment techniques or fertiliser management,” says Sagoo.
In addition to the field experiments, the project team is setting up a cross-border (the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands) network to facilitate innovation between the precision farming/sensor technology industry, research organisations and the field vegetable and potato crop sectors. The network is being developed by Delphy in the Netherlands and is due to launch later this year.
“The INNO-VEG innovation network will focus on facilitating innovation by realising the value of crop sensing technology in the delivery of field vegetable and potato research. We invite anyone with an interest in this area to join to network,” says network lead Cor Van Oers from Delphy.
The INNO-VEG project has received funding from the Interreg 2 Seas programme 2014-2020 co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under subsidy contract No 2S05-032.