Sector plan outlines opportunities, barriers and asks of government

The NFU has launched a horticulture and potatoes sector resilience plan, aimed at establishing a sustainable pathway for the industry.

The union launched the plan, alongside versions for each of the other agricultural sectors it represents, at its annual conference in Birmingham this week. The plans aim to demonstrate how farm businesses can unlock the benefits of increased efficiency and lower costs while improving the sustainable production of food, energy and fibre.

The horticulture plan is based around three pillars – resource-use efficiency, carbon storage, and renewables and the bio-economy.

For the first pillar, around resource-use efficiency, the NFU has identified a number of key areas, namely Lifecycle Carbon Analysis (LCA); carbon footprinting and benchmarking; productivity improvements; efficiency improvements; plastics – field use and packaging; and growing media.

Each section outlines opportunities for members, barriers, and the NFU’s asks of government.

Pillar 2 looks at carbon storage, with a focus on carbon sequestration in hedges, trees, soil and perennial crops, while pillar 3 is all about making the most of renewables.

Areas of opportunity

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board chair Martin Emmett explained: “The horticulture and potatoes sector is incredibly diverse, encompassing several hundred different crop types grown in a range of different growing systems.

“It is therefore challenging for the industry to establish benchmarks and targets that are representative of, or relevant to, the entire sector and so we have undertaken a project, in conjunction with NFU Energy, to identify key policy asks and barriers.

“We know that our sector has already made major steps, with narrow margins already necessitating growers to maximise efficiency wherever possible, and we want the good progress already made by this forward-thinking sector to be recognised.

“We’ve identified some key areas where growers feel there are opportunities to enhance and make new steps towards a net-zero sector, and also where there are constraints whether it is funding, policy, or a lack of information.

“With the recent ambition from government to grow this sector, now is the time to showcase horticulture, and enhance our ongoing efforts to enable the sector to be a world leader in productivity and the road to net zero.”

The full horticulture and potatoes resilience plan can be viewed here.