The industry body establishes a research and development board to drive sustainability and efficiency

British Berry Growers (BBG) has announced the formation of a new Research and Development (R&D) Board to advance sustainability and efficiency within the British berry industry.

Mixed berries in rows Adobe

According to the industry body, which represents 95 per cent of all the UK’s commercial soft fruit growers, the move reflects its mission of ensuring the long-term success of a thriving British berry industry which is ”recognised internationally for leading ethical and environmental leadership”.

The newly established BBG R&D Board will operate under the chairmanship of Dr Louise Sutherland, the director of Ceres Agri-tech at Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge.

Louise holds a PhD in plant pathology and is the chair of the Raspberry Breeding Consortium, with years of experience in the soft fruit industry.

The BBG R&D Board comprises six growers drawn from the BBG membership who represent different growing regions and grow a range of soft fruit crops.

Its work is being funded by a voluntary levy paid by BBG members, and it has two main activities.

Firstly, it is working with Horticulture Crop Protection Ltd, a collaboration with all major crop associations, to deliver crop protection products.

This work includes provision of EAMUs (Extension Authorisations for Minor Use) and EAs (Emergency Authorisations), biological controls and biopesticides to meet the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) needs of UK soft fruit growers.

Secondly, it is commissioning research to develop new IPM solutions for key strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and blueberry pests and diseases that affect the sustainability of the UK soft fruit sector.

“This is an exciting development that will generate significant benefits for the UK soft fruit industry,” Sutherland explained.

”British Berry Growers is keen to work and collaborate with researchers, businesses and other groups to develop IPM solutions for soft fruit pests and diseases either through Horticulture Crop Protection Ltd, or via our directly commissioned research and other projects where our interests overlap.”