Minister opens soft fruit irrigation efficiency facility at NIAB EMR

Farming minister George Eustice has opened a new research facility at Kent's NIAB EMR intended to demonstrate to soft fruit growers a range of techniques and technologies to minimise water use.

L-R: Caccamo, Eustice, Kerby - image: HW
L-R: Caccamo, Eustice, Kerby - image: HW

His visit to the site co-incided with the annual Fruit Focus trade show which welcomed fruit growers from across the UK.  

Eustice, hiimself a former soft fruit grower, said: "Irrigation is at the heart of soft fruit production, especially under cover, and improving water use effieciency will be a key challenge in the years ahead."

He added: "The government is looking at some tricky issues around water abstraction - the solutions to which will lie in technological advances and in more precise use of water."

Chairman of the NIAB EMR board Dr Nigel Kerby said: "It's massively encouraging to see new investments that meet practical needs of growers as well as the aims of the government's agri-tech strategy, namely increasing yields in a sustainable way."

NIAB EMR managing director Professor Mario Caccamo added: "We have a window on the future of what what agri-tech will look like, thanks to a partnership which has provided all the components."

The three-year project is a collaboration between NIAB EMR, soft fruit grower group Berry Gardens, Delta-T monitoring devices, growing media supplier Cocogreen, irrigation equipment specialist Netafim and its UK partner New Leaf Irrigation.

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