Nine new panel members have joined AHDB Horticulture to provide expert advice for a three-year term starting in January 2018.
The 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 and outdoor flowers.
Fruit manager at Lower Hope Fruit Emily Livesey has joined the organisation as tree fruit panel member, while James Moffatt of James Coles Nursery joins as hardy nursery stock panel member.
Other new members include Tim Casey, John Cappalonga, Russell Graydon, Edward Holmes, James Durnford, Gary Woodruffe and Andrew Fuller.
Livesey 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.
Moffatt 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.”
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 strategy director Steve Tones 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.”
AHDB Horticulture said its 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 panel members were selected following an application process, which ran until October 2017.