The horticulture productivity challenge was a big issue tackled at the NFU Fruit Forum at Fruit Focus, which was held recently at NIAB EMR at East Malling in Kent.
Against a backdrop of evolving farm policy, including the expected ending of the producer organisation scheme, and a backlog of crop-protection authorisations, how can the UK horticulture sector continue to drive productivity and remain globally competitive? Speakers from Defra, the NFU and growing explored the opportunities and challenges.
Capper said the sector gives 20% of farming value from just 1% of land.
Hugh Lowe Farms managing director Marion Regan said better strawberry genetics are helping to cut grade-outs. Top pickers can collect up to 100kg an hour, but they need to be experienced returnees. Her productivity "asks" are good genetics, returnee pickers, flexible lengths of stay, a flexible producer organisation scheme, tax breaks for innovation and long-term relations with customers.