Research is key to sustainable intensification, says HDC

Research, innovation and knowledge transfer, along with partnerships between science and industry, are crucial if horticulture is to achieve sustainable intensification, Horticultural Development Company director Dr Bill Parker has said.

Young Horticulturist of the Year 2012 winner, Douglas Mackay - image: IoH
Young Horticulturist of the Year 2012 winner, Douglas Mackay - image: IoH

Speaking at a Chartered Institute of Horticulture conference, Parker said: "UK horticulture is a dynamic, vibrant and innovative international business, with significant economic value for UK PLC. But competition and costs means it has low profitability. Horticulture needs a research focus."

Looking at the areas for innovation, he noted that mechanisation and precision tools will become increasingly important. Genetic manipulation could solve many issues, he suggested.

"Genetic manipulation holds answers to issues such as drought, flavour, nutritional content and also pest and disease control, but is clouded by a failure to appreciate the various strands. Europe now lags behind the rest of the world and many people see that as detrimental to the industry," he said.

"We need effective partnerships between science and industry, and we need to 'internationalise' research and knowledge transfer so we can work together to make best use of limited funds."

#Douglas Mackay, winner of the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition in 2012, has become the youngest member to receive the Chartered Institute of Horticulture President's Award. He is now assistant planning manager at S&A Produce in Herefordshire.

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