Sarah Calcutt NFS

The 89thNational Fruit Show (NFS) will take place on 2-3November 2022 at the Kent Showground at Detling and has been repositioned to fully include both soft fruit and topfruit.

NFS executive chair Sarah Calcutt explained that the new date meant growers will have picked the majority of their fruit and be able to bring their teams to the show. “It has not been possible to secure a date in November before, and we know the industry will be pleased by the move and we are looking forward to seeing everyone again at Detling,' she added.

'We have listened to the needs of our industry and for the first time our show will be for growers of all fruit crops, ensuring that we are encompassing the broad range of challengesfacing oursector, from regenerative techniques to the AI and automation revolution required.”

April AGM and conference programme unveiled

In the lead up to the show, organisers theMarden Fruit Show Society announced that its AGM will be taking place on Wednesday 6 April 2022 at NIAB EMR in East Malling, Kent. As well as covering society business, the day will feature a full conference programme focused on the theme of ‘UK Fruit Growing - The future, Automation and Research.' The AGM is open to everyone in the UK fruit industry, and will be available to attend in person and online.

Sponsored by the Agri-EPI Centre, which supports the development of engineering and precision agriculture technologies and systems, the programme will look at how new technologies can help growers become more efficient and productive at a time of tight margins and chronic labour shortages.

Dave Ross, chief executive of the Agri-EPI Centre, said “For us, sponsoring the National Fruit Show’s AGM is a fantastic way of showing our support for a like-minded organisation tackling the collective challenge of how to shape the future of sustainable fruit farming in the UK. We’re looking forward to the programme and an interesting day.”

During the conference, the James Nichols lecture will be delivered by Professor Simon Pearson, director of the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology. A leader in inter-disciplinary ag-tech research, Pearson is working on developing robotic solutions to drive productivity across the agri-food sector, including harvesting, phenotyping and crop care.

Also on the conference speaker’s platform is Tim Mordan, deputy director of the agri-food chain at Defra. Mordan will be attending the AGM to talk about the seasonal workers scheme, how the agencies involved are working to bring the right candidates to the UK, and also sourcing labour from home.

Alongside Mordan on the conference programme is Lee Abbey, chief horticultual adviser at the NFU.

Outfield and the Future of Fruit Farming

There is avast array of new and exciting technologies entering the horticultural space, from AI and machine learning to robotics and satellite technology.

Jim McDougall from Outfield willbe talking about the technology the company has developed with growers to assess orchards throughout the season using AI and drones. He'll also share what they've seen across horticulture in recent years, what Outfield's growers have found useful, and where these technologiesmight be going in the nearfuture.

The afternoon conference session is in conjunction with NIAB/EMR and all attendees have been invited to be the first visitors to the new growing Kent and Medway facility. An exclusive tour of the research facility including the new Business Client zone, innovation centre, post-harvest technology and fruit research areas will then be followed by a presentation of the latest research findings for the sector.

“There’s so much to look forward to at the AGM, and I would urge growers and other interested parties to reserve their places,” said Calcutt. “This is a crucial time for the industry, with growers having to deal with a wide range of challenges, and this conference will showcase some of the exciting examples of how automation and technology can help producers to thrive in the future.

“The winners of the long-term storage competition will also be revealed at the AGM, and it’s set to be a hard-fought contest. It’s the largest group of entries that we’ve seen in recent years, which is an incredible result.”

The Marden Fruit Show Society AGM will take place in person on 6 April the cost is £20 per person to cover food and refreshments throughout the day. More information is available by