Four new centres have been set up to demonstrate the latest horticultural research in field veg production.
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 AHDB’s variety trial programme, which has been running for over 20 years, by expanding to incorporate grower-led research trials.
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, further trials for 2019 include drilling depths and crop establishment for carrots and crop spacing to produce the required bulb size for onions.
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.”
The AHDB-funded trials have been set up to provide independent performance evaluation of yield, quality, shelf life and storage potential. 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 first locations are in Lincolnshire and Cornwall for brassicas; Norfolk and Essex for onions; Yorkshire for carrots; and Lincolnshire for legumes. AHDB said it hoped to extend the number of locations around the UK in future years.