Dixon on... Progressive innovation

Horticulture is typified by innovative thinking. Leaders in change are producers of fresh produce propelled by cost reductions and price stagnation.

Using science and technology permits increased control of growth and productivity by individual plants even where these are grown in huge populations.

Identifying, for example, how roots develop in propagation modules results in more-even transplant establishment. Then aerial tracking in the field of individual plants towards harvest reduces variable maturity. Costly wastes are then eliminated and contracted volumes provided for retailers.

Alterations in soil nutrient supplies across fields are causes of variability. Fertiliser regimes rely on soil analyses. Here innovation is exchanging chemistry for physics, potentially increasing the precision of sampling. Probes using near infrared analyses are trailed through soil, recording data for a range of properties.

Fertiliser applications linked directly with these analyses give previously unattainable accuracy in nutritional husbandry.

The TruNject project combines commercial and technological expertise from Manterra, Stockbridge Technology and Professor Mouazen. Conceivably, modifications of this technology will eventually also benefit fruit, bulb and ornamental growers.

Innovative thinking also benefits social horticulture. Over a generation Britain’s social horticulturists have become world-leaders in understanding the effects of plants for human health and well-being. The results are new concepts for planning, planting and managing micro-landscapes and changing dietary habits.

People respond very favourably psychologically when their work and leisure surroundings are well planted.

Equally, their physical health is enhanced by diets that contain fruit and vegetables.

Environmental horticulturists should also be in the vanguard. There is a dire need for innovative thinking in planning and planting for the mitigation of climate change.

Currently, for example, the drive for housebuilding all too frequently fails environmentally in terms
of carbon conservation. Greenfield sites are converted into bricks and asphalt without adequate provision for lost soil-based carbon conservation.

Climate change and its consequences, such as water shortages, are the biggest threats facing mankind.

Regrettably, horticulturists have not yet developed their innovations for combating this threat. The result is that they are ignored and their talents are wasted.

As the Brexit debates intensify, horticulture needs strong, vocal leaders who understand and publicise its capacities for innovation and the community profits these bring.

Professor Geoffrey Dixon is managing director of GreenGene international

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Pest & Disease Factsheet - Bacterial and fungal canker

Pest & Disease Factsheet - Bacterial and fungal canker

A wide range of nursery stock can be susceptible to potential damage from various cankers.

Hedging - what are the alternatives to box?

Hedging - what are the alternatives to box?

With box blight and box tree moth both posing problems, Miranda Kimberley looks at alternative planting choices.

Pest & Disease Factsheet - Spider mites

Pest & Disease Factsheet - Spider mites

Defences for protected and outdoor ornamentals.

Opinion... Unbeatable delight of quality plants

Opinion... Unbeatable delight of quality plants

Viewing top-quality plants, both growing and on sale, always gives me pleasure.

Editorial ... More analysis and insight from bumper HW issue

Editorial ... More analysis and insight from bumper HW issue

Welcome to this bumper 72-page July edition of Horticulture Week magazine, packed with exclusive analysis, insight and expert advice on the biggest issues impacting all sectors of the UK horticulture industry right now.

Edwards: Will a weak pound and tariffs on imported stock be good for UK nursery production?

Edwards: Will a weak pound and tariffs on imported stock be good for UK nursery production?

At the time of writing - a few days after the general election - sterling has weakened and we still have no idea of what Brexit means.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production

Read Tim Edwards

Ornamentals ranking

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Tough retail pricing policies and Brexit opportunities drive the top 30 growth strategies.

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world

Read more Peter Seabrook articles