Hydroponic tomatoes

AHDB has released £250,000 for research on five projects to tackle high priority pests and disease threats to British horticulture crops.

Researchers are being invited to submit proposals for five projects, each worth up to £50,000 to fight horticultural afflictions through industry-led sector panels, crop associations and risk analysis.

The project arises from a new initiative from Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, part of UK Research and Innvoation, and AHDB working together to invest in research for horticultural production.

The pilot scheme aims to generate data and outputs directly aligned to industry needs that could lead to longer-term research programmes and enable access to other funding opportunities.

Dr Nikki Harrison, horticulture senior scientist at AHDB, said: “Horticulture faces significant challenges from new threats, such as the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus which we saw in the UK for the first time this year.

“This new partnership will secure additional funding for the industry to complement our own research and respond to high priority crop threats. As an industry, we urgently need to develop new crop protection solutions to future-proof UK horticultural crop production, and by developing funding partnerships, we can markedly enhance our crop protection research programme for our growers.”

AHDB has committed to share the results of the research through their knowledge exchange programme.

The research projects will be awarded through a competitive process that includes an open call and will be assessed by an expert panel of horticultural scientists and industry representatives.

Dr Karen Lewis, BBSRC executive director, Capability and Innovation said: “BBSRC is pleased to be involved in this exciting new partnership with AHDB. We are working together to support the UK’s world-class bioscience researchers in helping to address the challenges of new pest and disease threats faced by the horticultural industry.

“AHDB’s relationship with growers will ensure that the outputs are shared, and can contribute to the development of future research programmes that are aligned to the crop protection needs of UK growers.”