G's Marketing and Berry Gardens win Technology Strategy Board funds

Berry Gardens Growers, the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI), and G's Marketing are just some of the big names in horticulture to have been awarded Technology Strategy Board (TSB) funding.

As reported in Horticulture Week on 16 July, 11 out of the TSB's 32 new approaches to crop protection funding competition projects relate to horticulture - fruit and vegetable projects specifically - with each horticulture project being awarded an average of £291,000.

A further four of the 32 crop protection projects relate to potato research and another seven are generic studies whose results will pertain to all crop sectors, including horticulture.

The majority of the projects are seeing growers form consortiums with commercial companies as horticultural research becomes more business-focused.

The SCRI has won funding for five projects, including £558,154 for a scheme that is examining plant-derived resistance to pests and diseases.

The project, whose consortium members include Ribena pro- ducer GlaxoSmithKline and Berry Gardens Growers, will see how this resistance can best be used on soft fruit crops to help growers reduce their reliance on chemicals and produce high-quality fruit.

SCRI director and chief executive Professor Peter Gregory said: "These new projects will complement existing research at the SCRI and allow us to come up with novel ideas and solutions to improve agricultural sustainability."

Vegetable and salad producer G's Marketing is leading a project - the consortium for which includes East Coast Growers, Marks & Spencer and Warwick HRI - to develop "integrated strategies to control cabbage root fly on radishes". Technical director Ed Moorhouse said: "The radish business is highly vulnerable to cabbage root fly damage because the pests infest the bulbs.

"Although cabbage root fly affects most Brassica crops it does not badly affect the part of the plant that consumers eat. But in radishes it affects exactly the same part of the plant that's eaten by the consumer. The control options are pretty limited and we struggle in the season to have reliable control so we want to evaluate the range of options - such as biological controls, new chemical controls and meshes. We will make the techniques developed as part of the TSB project available to the wider industry."

Berry Gardens Growers is leading a consortium of companies - including BerryWorld, Sainsbury's and Tozer Seeds - that has been given funding to look into new biofumigation-based approaches for control of soil-borne pathogens.

Its chairman Marion Regan told Grower: "This project will aim to increase the sustainability of soil-grown soft fruit. Pathogens are one of the major concerns for growers who grow soft fruit in soil."

Elsoms Seeds has teamed up with the University of Warwick, Vegetable Consultancy Services and Becker Underwood to develop "novel biological seed treatment technologies".

Managing director Robin Wood said: "We are pleased to get funding. The future of growing is going to revolve around better crop protection or better genes."


Some of the other horticulture-related projects that have won funding include:

- Evaluation of novel spinosad bait for control of fly pests in horticultural crops. Consortium led by Dow AgroSciences.

- Development of molecular markers for resistance to strawberry powdery mildew. Consortium led by Driscoll's Genetics.

- Novel pest control in tomato through the use of sterile male insects. Consortium led by Oxitec.

- Development of novel spray application technologies to enhance effectiveness of benign pesticide products and to minimise residues in UK apple production. Consortium led by Farm Advisory Services Team.

- Seed to store - an holistic approach to controlling internal rots in onion. Consortium led by Allium and Brassica Centre.

A complete list of the crop protection projects awarded TSB funds can be downloaded from www.tiny.cc/cropprotection

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