Posted on

New AHDB strategic centre focuses on brassicas

New AHDB strategic centre focuses on brassicas - Scotland SC ESG 05062020 trial planting 3

Scotland SC ESG 05062020 trial planting 3 /// © East of Scotland Growers Ltd.

 

East of Scotland Growers (ESG) has joined AHDB’s Farm Excellence programme as the new Strategic Centre for Field Vegetable Crops – Brassicas in Scotland. A series of four trials will be conducted over the brassica-growing season at ESG’s fields in Balmullo, Fife. The grower-led trials will look at methods of preventing downy mildew in cauliflower and the impact of bio-stimulants on crop health and vigour. 

They will also explore herbicide screening pre- and post-planting, as well as the use of herbicides that have shown promise in AHDB’s SCEPTREplus trials. AHDB is working in partnership with farmer-owned cooperative East of Scotland Growers, which produces broccoli and cauliflower, and Kettle Produce, which grows Brussels sprouts and swedes, to carry out the trials. 

ADAS is the subcontractor in charge of the trials, which are being conducted by Oxford Agriculture Trials (OATS). NIAB is also a partner in the project. James Rome, agronomist at East of Scotland Growers, said: “We were keen to work with AHDB as we face different challenges in Scotland from other parts of the UK. We wanted to trial new approaches on our doorstep that can benefit local growers. The biggest trial we will be undertaking is for bio-stimulants. We need to adapt our conventional methods of growing to use these new products so we are less reliant on traditional chemistry. If we can produce a healthy plant from the start then we will have less problems with disease and pests.”

Drilling of swedes began on 1 June, with the first herbicides applied later that week. The planting of the other brassicas – broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts and collards/points – began on 5 June, with the first application of bio-stimulants due in the next two weeks.

The new Scottish Strategic Centre for Brassicas complements the current AHDB strategic centres for field vegetable crops, which conduct ‘core’ variety evaluation trials each year. Additional funding is available specifically for grower-led areas of work and the new centre is the result of such a grower-led initiative where specific problems that occur in Scotland can be addressed. 

Scotland is one of the UK’s three key brassica production regions, in addition to Lincolnshire and Cornwall, and growers in the country are an important supplier of broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and swedes. Over 90% of all autumn and winter cauliflower and spring cabbage produced in the UK is now sold through the supermarkets as a programmed part of their 52-week supply. 

Dr Dawn Teverson, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager for Horticulture, said: “Scotland’s distinct regional climate lends it to a summer production peak for flower-headed brassicas and overwintered brussels sprouts but also favours diseases such as downy mildew and light leaf spot, which are more minor issues in other regions. We are delighted to announce this new partnership and look forward to working together to overcome some of the unique challenges faced by our growers in Scotland.”

Posted on

New studies in Scotland into sustainable crop combinations 

New studies in Scotland into sustainable crop combinations 

 

A study is underway in Scotland to identify the best combinations of crops to develop more sustainable production. The Sustainability in Education and Agriculture using Mixtures (SEAMS) initiative, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, is coordinated by the James Hutton Institute. SEAMS has a network of sites across Scotland to trial crop mixtures and provide information on how to tailor their use to different locations. The sites will also be the venue for discussions with local farmers to further expand the network.

The study is based on the finding that different crop mixtures can improve yield stability, reduce pest and disease damage, and enhance stress resilience in agricultural systems. SEAMS aims to partner up with food buyers and producers to increase demand for local products derived from the mixtures. The project also plans to connect with policy makers to promote the use of crop mixtures within future agricultural policy.

 

Posted on

Lidl opens giant distribution centre in Scotland

Lidl opens giant distribution centre in Scotland

 

German discounter Lidl is growing its presence in Scotland. According to the BBC, the retailer has recently opened a new 58,500 m2 Scottish distribution centre in North Lanarkshire costing £70 million. The warehouse is Lidl’s largest in the UK and will serve the company’s 99 stores in Scotland. The investment means that around 600 employees have relocated from Livingston to the Eurocentral centre, with scope for a further 250 jobs in the near future. A press release issued by Lidl said, “This new centre represents a pivotal moment in our ambitious growth plans across Scotland.” Earlier this year, the retailer announced that it plans to open a further 12 stores in Scotland over the next three years in Dundee, East Kilbride, Cowdenbeath, Larkhall and Dumbarton.

Photo: BBC News