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Industry News

Cauliflowers & cabbage shortage due to weather

By Industry News

Cauliflowers and cabbages likely to run short as growers battle with increasingly volatile weather

Cauliflower, sprouts, white and red cabbages are likely to be in short supply due to extreme weather conditions. A spokesman for the Brassica Growers Association described the situation as very concerning. June saw record amounts of rainfall in Lincolnshire – as much as 6 inches in a week. This resulted in flooded and damaged crops which has led to a shortening of supply. Crops can withstand a reasonable amount of variation in weather but the conditions in June were too much and as a result crops have suffered, and this is leading to a shortage of supply.

Ironically the supply situation has been made even more difficult by extreme temperatures on the continent. In an ordinary year, parts of Europe would make up any shortfall in the UK supply chain, but Europe has been experiencing its own weather extremes. While the UK was contending with flood conditions, Europe was suffering from record temperatures.

Crops thrive best on a balance of warmth, light and water. Last year, we experienced the Beast from the East followed by a record dry spell and extreme temperatures. This year we started with a dry winter and an early spring but then moved into a period of record rainfall and low light levels followed by record breaking temperatures. These extreme variations don’t make for ideal growing conditions.

A spokesman said there is only so much technology that can be applied to producing food and the weather will always have the upper hand. No amount of planning or programming can account for the conditions we have seen over the past couple of seasons. Growers start the season with a clear plan to provide customers with quantity and quality of produce they are looking for. But when the weather turns against you and that plan goes off track, there is virtually nothing that can be done to rectify the situation.

The situation has been aggravated by the reduction of area being planted due to poor returns over the last few years. Growers only grow just enough for their customer programmes and when there are issues due to the weather this leaves a shortage which cannot be filled.

Jack Ward CEO British Growers commented that there is a danger that we take food production for granted and expect our supply chains to deliver irrespective of the conditions. Over the past two season we have seen extraordinary weather conditions and inevitably this influences supplies.

For more information please contact

 

Jack Ward on 07799 757778

Jack.ward@britishgrowers.org

UK Vining Pea and Bean Industry Conference 2019 – Press Release

By Industry News

PRESS RELEASE

UK Vining Pea and Bean Industry Conference 2019

Tuesday 5th November 2019

The third biennial Vining Pea and Bean Industry Conference is back. You can officially save the date in your dairies for Tuesday 5th November 2019! The event will be held at the KingsGate Conference Centre, Peterborough.

ICL have very kindly offered to sponsor the event, which promises to be another key industry event.

We are in the process of putting the programme together but can release that the conference will cover theses key areas:

  • Growing peas: Profitably and more Sustainably
  • Getting the Nation to eat more Peas
  • An insight into the future of Policy

This event will be bigger and better than 2015, so please save the date.

The conference is aimed at growers, managers, agronomists, processors, seed companies, crop protection specialists and machinery manufacturers from the vining pea industry and will be free to attend.

If you are interested in exhibiting at the conference, please click here to register.

More details of the Conference will follow but you can register for your free delegate ticket here .  If you do have any enquiries in the meantime about the event, please contact Coral Russell at British Peas and Beans.

 

Release stops

Key information:

Word count: 176

Ticket information British Growers

 

UK Need for Fruit & Veg Growth

By Industry News

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 jack.ward@britishgrowers.org

The Food Foundation is Hiring!

By Industry News

The Food Foundation is Hiring!

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.

Salary £35,000 pa. Closing date: 09.00 23rd July.

Interviews on August 1st. Please apply here.

Finding a Solution to the Seasonal Worker Challenge

By Company News, Industry News

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.

National Food Strategy

By Industry News

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.”

Henry Dimbleby

“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

To find out more information please visit www.nationalfoodstrategy.org

INNO-VEG: Transforming research and development in the field vegetable and potato sectors

By Industry News

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.

 

 

Dr Lizzie Sagoo
Principal Soil Scientist

The Asparagus Growers Association Biennial Conference

By Industry News

The Asparagus Growers Association Biennial Conference  :  16 July 2019

Following the success of the Asparagus Biennial Conference in 2017, the Asparagus Growers Association is organising an even bigger event on Tuesday 16 July 2019.

The Conference and Exhibition is being held at the world renown National Agri-Food Innovation Campus (NAFIC), Sand Hutton, York, which is a well-established conference and exhibition venue.

The Conference Dinner will be held on the evening of Monday 15 July 2019 at Sandburn Hall, Flaxton, York.

We are pleased to announce Chris Rose from Chris Rose Associates will be presenting “Harvesting Practises for Asparagus” and will be followed by various experts in the asparagus field.

Dr Andrew Swift, Director of Science Services and Capita and CEO of Fera Ltd is the after-dinner speaker following a drinks reception and dinner.

For further information and registration please visit the website: www.asparagusconference.co.uk, alternatively, please do not hesitate to contact Debbie Stacey at BGA House, Nottingham Road, Louth, Lincolnshire, LN11 0WB, telephone  01507 353 789,  email admin@british.growers.org

Three Months Rain in a Single Week – Devastates Lincolnshire Crops Ready for Harvest

By Industry News

A month of rain fell on brassica crops in Lincolnshire in a single day last week; growers across the key production areas are assessing the damage and the impact on consumers.

A spokesman for the Brassica Growers Association said “in a normal year we would expect around 50 mm of rain for entire month of June. Last week, crops waiting to be harvested were deluged with up to 80 mm of rain in a single day. Some farms recorded the equivalent of 3 months in a week. This has turned fields into quagmires, creating nightmare conditions for the harvest teams. Staff struggled through mud, up to a foot deep, to harvest crops and fulfil orders”.

“Growers are used to dealing with the weather, but the conditions last week were well outside what we are used to” explained the Association spokesman.

More rain is forecast this week and while the immediate risk of flooding has reduced, the fields will remain totally waterlogged long after the rain has stopped and harvesting crops will continue to be a real challenge.

Harvesting is not the only activity to be affected; we are now at a critical stage for planting crops for harvest in winter and spring 2020 and the impact of the recent rains could have knock on effect on future availability.

The spokesman said that growers are working closely with customers to keep them informed about the situation and what they can expect by way of supplies. Lincolnshire produces about 30% of all field scale veg grown in the UK and was hardest hit by the ‘freak’ weather conditions.

2019 is in marked contrast to 2018 when all the talk was of drought and lack of rain. “There is no doubt” said the spokesman “that we are seeing much more volatile weather patterns in recent years, which all adds to the demands of growing high quality produce.”

 

For more information please contact Jack Ward on 07799 757778 or via email at jack.ward@britishgrowers.org.

Update on the Agriculture Bill

By Industry News

The Agriculture Bills passage through parliament will start to speed up following the decision to postpone the date for the UKs exit from the EU. Following a meeting with Defra staff, Jack reports that we could start to see the Bill continue on its path through the parliamentary process in May. (there has been virtually no progress on the Bill since the Committee stages in November). There are several aspects of the Bill which are of particular interest to the fresh produce industry. The Govt is keen to support increased productivity and discussions are starting to take place on what this might entail. The section on POs is another area where the fresh produce industry will be taking a keen interest. We have started to give some thought to how a replacement scheme might operate so we are on the front foot with our proposals. Work on the Food Strategy is also moving forward. There has been a lot of talk about the role which fresh produce could take in delivering a healthier nation. The Food Strategy is an ideal opportunity to see this message turned into something tangible which lends more support and encouragement to need to increase our daily intake of fruit and veg.

Many new initiatives affecting the sector have been on hold while parliamentary time has been taken up with Brexit. Now that a no deal scenario is looking less likely, the Government machine will be returning to a more ‘business as normal’ pattern of operation. This should mean that the discussions on the detail of the new Agriculture Bill will start to accelerate. Expect busy times ahead.