Buoyant industry to fund research

Increasing income from growers boosts HDC studies

Increasing income for the Horticultural Development Council from its levy on growers’ turnover means that more money will be available for research and suggests that UK nurseries are making more money, according to HDC chairman Colin Harvey. Harvey was addressing nursery stock producers gathered last week to hear best-practice tips from their peers and get to grips with a range of issues, including waste management, pesticide use and labour management, at a one-day conference in Oxford. Planting for Profit brought together speakers with experience of running some of the country’s leading nurseries, including Notcutts production director Paul Masters, Lowaters Nursery chief Ian Ashton and Roundstone Nurseries managing director John Tugman. The conference was sponsored by Certis, the HDC, Horticulture Week and William Sinclair Horticulture. In his opening address, Harvey said growers face a number of challenges, including new legislation, changing business practices, more demanding consumers and global competition for a slice of the lucrative UK horticulture market. He said the HDC was committed to providing the necessary support. Practical, science-based research on water use, plant uniformity and productivity will continue, augmented by work on the pan-European plant coding system, quality assurance, supply-chain management and working safety. Much of this work could be done by focusing consultants and researchers on “smaller, targeted projects with a quick turnaround and a quick return on investment”, he said, stressing the importance of a business-like approach.

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