Developing a decision support system to improve crop management, yield forecasting and resource use efficiency in UK soft fruit production

Lead Research Organisation: East Malling Research
Department Name: Science

Abstract

The UK soft fruit industry is a vital part of the UK's rural economy with annual sales of strawberries and raspberries of 111 Kt, worth c. £452M at retail sales value. The soft fruit sector has invested heavily in the development of new technology and higher-yielding varieties over the last 15 years and strawberry Class 1 yield/ha has risen from 8 t to 21 t (Defra). However, commercial yields of 38 t/ha are possible if crop agronomy is optimised. The yield gap is due in part to changeable environmental factors within the polytunnels, and the operational decisions made by growers in response to these variables. Over-irrigation and high fertiliser inputs during changeable weather can increase disease susceptibility, lower marketable yields and reduce organoleptic quality. Consequently, 33% of all harvested soft fruit is wasted each year, due to disorders such as rots, bruising and poor textural quality. A 30% reduction in soft fruit waste would stem UK imports and generate extra income for BGG growers of c. £5M p.a. Furthermore, inaccurate predictions of Class 1 yields by BGG growers resulted in lost revenue of £1M in just one two-week period in 2013 and improving the accuracy of yield forecasts could be expected to increase revenue by £3-4M p.a.
To achieve this, the consortium will develop a Decision Support System (DSS) that will enable growers to improve operational decision making and reduce the impact of changeable weather on crop yield, quality and wastage. Growers, retailers and consumers will benefit from more accurate yield forecasts leading to better pricing, greater resource use efficiency leading to cost savings and improved environmental performance, lower waste during production leading to increased tonnage to sell, improved consistency of supply of high quality fresh fruit with an assured shelf-life leading to reduced wastage in store.
The consortium has expertise in soft fruit agronomy and husbandry, crop physiology and nutrition, substrate sciencood quality science, engineering, modelling, IT and meteorology, and has a strong track record of delivering and exploiting publicly-funded R&D. The consortium will: 1) develop, test and deploy innovative technological, scientific, and meteorological solutions to reduce the impact of changeable weather on yield and quality; 2) improve consistency of the supply of high quality, phytonutritious fruit with an assured shelf-life; 3) reduce pre- and post-harvest waste leading to greater profitability and resource use efficiency; 4) improve accuracy of crop yield and timing forecasts to assure higher product pricing and improved grower margins; 5) develop and deploy a DSS to help growers improve the economic and environmental sustainability of their businesses; 6) increase resilience of UK soft fruit production to the impacts of weather and climate variability.
Proof-of-concept of these novel technologies will be tested in scientific experiments using proprietary varieties of strawberry and raspberry at East Malling Research (EMR). The DSS will then be deployed and developed further on BGG grower sites to quantify the potential to deliver a greater efficiency in the use of resources, improved productivity from waste reduction, and improved grower margins from more accurate yield forecasts. We anticipate revenue gains of £15-17M p. a. arising from the adoption of the outputs. The route to market will be via commercial roll-out to BGG's 60 UK soft fruit growers and overseas partners in the first instance. The DSS will be transferable to BGG's stone fruit growers, to other UK tree fruit sectors and to other protected and unprotected high-value horticultural production systems in the UK and overseas where improved farming precision is needed to advance sustainable intensification and deliver economic impact.

Technical Summary

The UK soft fruit industry has invested heavily in new technologies and marketable yields have increased 3-fold in recent years, but further increases are possible if crop agronomy is optimised. However, 33% of all harvested fruit is wasted each year, due to disorders such as rots, bruising and a poor shelf-life that are exacerbated in changeable weather. A 30% reduction in soft fruit waste would stem UK imports and generate extra income for growers. To achieve this, we will develop a Decision Support System that will enable growers to improve decision making and reduce the impact of changeable weather on crop yield and quality. Growers, retailers and consumers will benefit from more accurate yield forecasts leading to better pricing, greater resource use efficiency leading to cost savings and improved environmental performance, lower waste during production leading to increased tonnage to sell, improved consistency of supply of high quality fresh fruit with an assured shelf-life leading to reduced wastage in store.

Planned Impact

The main economic and social benefits will be a significant boost to the economic and environmental performance of the UK's soft fruit and ancillary industries. Improved consistency of high quality fresh fruit with enhanced phytonutrient content and longer shelf-life, grown under environmentally sustainable production methods will benefit UK retailers and consumers. BerryGardens Growers Ltd will benefit from improved efficiencies during production, higher profits due to increased tonnages to sell and improved fruit quality and shelf-life potential. Delta-T Devices Ltd will benefit from a new opportunity to increase the functionality of their GP2 controller which will aid sales to commercial soft fruit growers Delta-T will benefit from a new market opportunity to improve the functionality of the GP2 controller. Eden Irrigation Consultancy Ltd will benefit from new business upgrading uManage on Netafim fertigation rigs at grower sites. Weatherquest Ltd will increase their involvement with the soft fruit industry and by extending their current range of forecasting capability they will also benefit EMR's research into improving resource use efficiency for UK perennial fruit crops. In addition, EMR's research into manipulating pre-harvest factors to increase marketable yields and fresh produce quality will benefit from the project outputs.
The project consortium anticipates that the innovative technologies will also benefit the wider research and grower communities to provide substantial environmental and sociological opportunities for the UK horticultural industry. Benefits will include improved resource use efficiency, reduced pesticide use, improved yield predictions, extended shelf-life and reduced wastage on-farm and in store and improved choice of UK-sourced high quality fruit for consumers. The technologies developed will be transferable to all high value horticulture sectors and will help to improve on-farm resource use efficiencies and marketable yields. The project outputs will help to reduce the environmental impact of intensive horticultural production on groundwater availability and quality which is an increasing cause for concern in the major soft fruit growing regions and especially so in the south east. Adoption of the new technology by the horticulture industries would also help to promote public awareness of primary producers' commitment to reducing impacts on the environment as they strive to meet the challenges associated with sustainable intensification. These benefits will be delivered over a 10-year timeframe.
By becoming more efficient, the industry will become more competitive in the market place and this should deliver improved values for the buyers of the product. Producing higher yields of more flavoursome fruit with an improved phytonutrient content and extended shelf-life in an environmentally sustainable way should help to stimulate increased consumption which links into the government agenda on healthy eating to combat obesity and associated diseases. The project outputs would also deliver into produce assurance schemes such as LEAF Marque and the Red Tractor Scheme and retailers' own corporate sustainability schemes. Increasing resource efficiency and economic output from the same area of land will benefit the environment and water-related ecosystem services and impact positively on the people living within the producer communities. The ratio of inputs such as water, energy, pesticides and fertilisers will be lowered if higher yields of quality product can be produced from the same area of land. The development of these innovations could have a very large economic, environmental and social impact to the UK sustainability and health agenda for parties outside of the consortium.

Publications

10 25 50

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
BB/M027317/1 01/06/2015 31/01/2016 £371,029
BB/M027317/2 Transfer BB/M027317/1 01/02/2016 31/12/2018 £364,907
 
Description We have used deviations in the relationship between the rate of change of substrate moisture content and changes in vapour pressure deficit (VPD) to develop algorithms that enable us to remotely detect the beginning of plant water stress. This will enable us to monitor low input growing strategies implemented on commercial farms and detect early signs of plant water stress due to poor irrigation scheduling or an interruption of water supply. Analysis of well watered raspberry plant data coupled with predictions of VPD has enabled us to develop a water use prediction algorithm to deliver 3-day prediction of plant water use during changeable weather.
We have developed bespoke fertilser recipes for proprietary strawberry and raspberry varieties that improve fertiliser use efficiencies and will reduce the effects of intensive soft fruit production on the quality of water bodies.
We have developed variety-specific thermal time models to improve the accuracy of growers' yield forecasts, and have shown that weather probability forecasts can be used to predict the cumulative growing degree hours (GDH) to assist with production scheduling.
We have developed models linking predictions of the external weather to the internal aerial environment within polytunnels; this data will be used by growers to inform irrigation and polytunnel venting decisions.
We have identified new water-and fertiliser-saving set points for proprietary strawberry and raspberry varieties and have developed and tested an enhanced Precision Irrigation Package (PIP - developed as an output from IUK 101623) which was tested on eight BGG commercial soft fruit farms over 2 years. We demonstrated that the enhanced PIP system can deliver significant yield increases of 14% Class 1 fruit (ca. £10,000/ha for a June-bearer crop and £16,000/ha for an ever-bearer crop, based on 2018 prices) with quality improvements and a saving in water and fertiliser inputs of 37%.
We have developed a dashboard system to display in real time data from the sensors systems within the polytunnels and an alarm to alert researchers and growers when monitored parameters deviate from pre-determined set points.
The enhanced PIP is now being sold to commercial soft fruit growers; to date sales of 13 units have been made and the target for the 2019 season is a further 20 units.
Exploitation Route The ability to detect plant water stress remotely through deviations in the relationship between the rate of change of substrate drying and changes in VPD will inform and improve our commercial trials in IUK 102640 in 2019, and will also enable us to ensure that the PIP is being used correctly on commercial farms. The approach has also been used to deliver and monitor Precision Irrigation and Deficit Irrigation in an AHDB-funded project for the Protected Ornamentals sector (pot poinsettia) and will be included in a new project submission to AHDB (P1902290) on 20 March 2019. There is also the potential to use this approach in the Protected Edibles sector (e.g. pot herbs) to improve resource use efficiency and leaf quality and this work will be developed over the Summer of 2019.
There is the potential to combine thermal time models, the prediction of environmental metrics and digital counts of flower numbers to improve the accuracy of growers' yield predictions. This work formed part of a proposal submitted to the IUK Open Competition Round 3 call in November 2018; despite achieving a score of 85%, the proposal was not funded. We will revise and resubmit the proposal to the IUK SMART Call in April 2019.
Our approach to developing new bespoke fertiliser regimes for proprietary varieties is being taken up by Berry Gardens Growers Ltd who have recently funded new work to improve nutrient use efficiency and berry quality in a new ever bearer variety.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Environment

 
Description The potential to use thermal time models to improve the accuracy of growers' yield forecasts has been welcomed by Berry Gardens Growers Ltd. A research proposal to the IUK Open Competition Round 3 focussing on refining the thermal time models to include the effects of Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) on the rate of fruit ripening was submitted in November 2018. Despite achieving a score of 85% (x5 8s, x5 9s), the proposal was not successful. The reviewers' comments highlighted a few areas where improvements would lead to a higher score, and the proposal is currently being revised with the intention of re-submission to the SMART Funding Call in April 2019.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Environment
Impact Types Economic

 
Description IUK 102124 BerryDSS 
Organisation Berry Gardens Growers Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution NIAB EMR is the leading perennial fruit crop research organisation in the UK and has key expertise in using detailed scientific understanding of plant and crop responses to environmental variables to develop accurate models of water use and yield forecasting for UK horticultural crops. NIAB EMR provided the underpinning science, facilities and equipment needed to: 1) test the robustness of the relationship between rate of change of substrate drying and changes in VPD; 2) develop precision fertigation formulations for proprietary varieties; 3) develop and test crop yield prediction models. Dr Else has experience and expertise in the scientific management of linked RTO-industry projects.
Collaborator Contribution BerryGardens Growers Ltd is the UK's leading berry and stone fruit production and marketing group with sales in 2017 of £325 million, a market share in excess of 30% and a year-round business supplying most of Britain's top retailers. BGG co-ordinated partners' technical, financial and reporting inputs to ensure that all project milestones were met in full. BGG hosted the experimental trials on their member's farms in 2017 and 2018. Delta T Devices Ltd currently design, manufacture (in the UK) and sell environmental science instrumentation in over 80 countries and many products are utilised by researchers to investigate the effects of climate change and improve water and fertigation resource management. Weatherquest Ltd provides forecast services to agri-businesses and c. 500 farms. Integrating weather forecast information into soft fruit production management systems for the protection of resources, reduction of input costs, and management of disease and optimisation of crop scheduling is needed and achievable. Netafim UK Ltd are a non-grant seeking partner with key expertise in crop management technology and is the leading support company for precision control systems in the UK. Sub-contracts to NIAB EMR: Prof. Hadley (University of Reading) provided advice and guidance on using environmental metrics to predict cropping. The Technology Research Centre (TRC), did not provide the BerryVision System in good time and so we were unable to compare the accuracy with which the BerryVision system could predict ripening dates with the outputs from the variety-specific thermal time models developed in the project.
Impact The project outcomes include: 1) An improved ability to match irrigation demand with supply during changeable weather using the relationship between rate of substrate drying and VPD to improve water and nutrient use efficiencies, and crop quality; 2) Bespoke fertiliser recipes that can be used in precision fertigation regimes tooptimise Class 1 yields, fruit quality and fertiliser use efficiency for proprietary varieties; 3) New variety-specific thermal time models to improve the accuracy of crop yield and harvesting forecasts to assure higher pricing and improved grower margins; 4) The use of weather probability forecasting to predict the aerial environment within polytunnels and to provide cummulative grower degree hour (GDH) data to inform and improve the thermal time models. 5) A BerryDSS that incorporates and enhances an existing commercial irrigation scheduling service (the PIP) to help growers to improve the economic, environmental and social sustainability of their businesses. Disciplines include: Plant physiology, soft fruit agronomy, mathematical modelling, meteorology, data science, hardware and software engineering
Start Year 2016
 
Description IUK 102124 BerryDSS 
Organisation Delta T Devices Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution NIAB EMR is the leading perennial fruit crop research organisation in the UK and has key expertise in using detailed scientific understanding of plant and crop responses to environmental variables to develop accurate models of water use and yield forecasting for UK horticultural crops. NIAB EMR provided the underpinning science, facilities and equipment needed to: 1) test the robustness of the relationship between rate of change of substrate drying and changes in VPD; 2) develop precision fertigation formulations for proprietary varieties; 3) develop and test crop yield prediction models. Dr Else has experience and expertise in the scientific management of linked RTO-industry projects.
Collaborator Contribution BerryGardens Growers Ltd is the UK's leading berry and stone fruit production and marketing group with sales in 2017 of £325 million, a market share in excess of 30% and a year-round business supplying most of Britain's top retailers. BGG co-ordinated partners' technical, financial and reporting inputs to ensure that all project milestones were met in full. BGG hosted the experimental trials on their member's farms in 2017 and 2018. Delta T Devices Ltd currently design, manufacture (in the UK) and sell environmental science instrumentation in over 80 countries and many products are utilised by researchers to investigate the effects of climate change and improve water and fertigation resource management. Weatherquest Ltd provides forecast services to agri-businesses and c. 500 farms. Integrating weather forecast information into soft fruit production management systems for the protection of resources, reduction of input costs, and management of disease and optimisation of crop scheduling is needed and achievable. Netafim UK Ltd are a non-grant seeking partner with key expertise in crop management technology and is the leading support company for precision control systems in the UK. Sub-contracts to NIAB EMR: Prof. Hadley (University of Reading) provided advice and guidance on using environmental metrics to predict cropping. The Technology Research Centre (TRC), did not provide the BerryVision System in good time and so we were unable to compare the accuracy with which the BerryVision system could predict ripening dates with the outputs from the variety-specific thermal time models developed in the project.
Impact The project outcomes include: 1) An improved ability to match irrigation demand with supply during changeable weather using the relationship between rate of substrate drying and VPD to improve water and nutrient use efficiencies, and crop quality; 2) Bespoke fertiliser recipes that can be used in precision fertigation regimes tooptimise Class 1 yields, fruit quality and fertiliser use efficiency for proprietary varieties; 3) New variety-specific thermal time models to improve the accuracy of crop yield and harvesting forecasts to assure higher pricing and improved grower margins; 4) The use of weather probability forecasting to predict the aerial environment within polytunnels and to provide cummulative grower degree hour (GDH) data to inform and improve the thermal time models. 5) A BerryDSS that incorporates and enhances an existing commercial irrigation scheduling service (the PIP) to help growers to improve the economic, environmental and social sustainability of their businesses. Disciplines include: Plant physiology, soft fruit agronomy, mathematical modelling, meteorology, data science, hardware and software engineering
Start Year 2016
 
Description IUK 102124 BerryDSS 
Organisation Netafim UK Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution NIAB EMR is the leading perennial fruit crop research organisation in the UK and has key expertise in using detailed scientific understanding of plant and crop responses to environmental variables to develop accurate models of water use and yield forecasting for UK horticultural crops. NIAB EMR provided the underpinning science, facilities and equipment needed to: 1) test the robustness of the relationship between rate of change of substrate drying and changes in VPD; 2) develop precision fertigation formulations for proprietary varieties; 3) develop and test crop yield prediction models. Dr Else has experience and expertise in the scientific management of linked RTO-industry projects.
Collaborator Contribution BerryGardens Growers Ltd is the UK's leading berry and stone fruit production and marketing group with sales in 2017 of £325 million, a market share in excess of 30% and a year-round business supplying most of Britain's top retailers. BGG co-ordinated partners' technical, financial and reporting inputs to ensure that all project milestones were met in full. BGG hosted the experimental trials on their member's farms in 2017 and 2018. Delta T Devices Ltd currently design, manufacture (in the UK) and sell environmental science instrumentation in over 80 countries and many products are utilised by researchers to investigate the effects of climate change and improve water and fertigation resource management. Weatherquest Ltd provides forecast services to agri-businesses and c. 500 farms. Integrating weather forecast information into soft fruit production management systems for the protection of resources, reduction of input costs, and management of disease and optimisation of crop scheduling is needed and achievable. Netafim UK Ltd are a non-grant seeking partner with key expertise in crop management technology and is the leading support company for precision control systems in the UK. Sub-contracts to NIAB EMR: Prof. Hadley (University of Reading) provided advice and guidance on using environmental metrics to predict cropping. The Technology Research Centre (TRC), did not provide the BerryVision System in good time and so we were unable to compare the accuracy with which the BerryVision system could predict ripening dates with the outputs from the variety-specific thermal time models developed in the project.
Impact The project outcomes include: 1) An improved ability to match irrigation demand with supply during changeable weather using the relationship between rate of substrate drying and VPD to improve water and nutrient use efficiencies, and crop quality; 2) Bespoke fertiliser recipes that can be used in precision fertigation regimes tooptimise Class 1 yields, fruit quality and fertiliser use efficiency for proprietary varieties; 3) New variety-specific thermal time models to improve the accuracy of crop yield and harvesting forecasts to assure higher pricing and improved grower margins; 4) The use of weather probability forecasting to predict the aerial environment within polytunnels and to provide cummulative grower degree hour (GDH) data to inform and improve the thermal time models. 5) A BerryDSS that incorporates and enhances an existing commercial irrigation scheduling service (the PIP) to help growers to improve the economic, environmental and social sustainability of their businesses. Disciplines include: Plant physiology, soft fruit agronomy, mathematical modelling, meteorology, data science, hardware and software engineering
Start Year 2016
 
Description IUK 102124 BerryDSS 
Organisation Weatherquest Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution NIAB EMR is the leading perennial fruit crop research organisation in the UK and has key expertise in using detailed scientific understanding of plant and crop responses to environmental variables to develop accurate models of water use and yield forecasting for UK horticultural crops. NIAB EMR provided the underpinning science, facilities and equipment needed to: 1) test the robustness of the relationship between rate of change of substrate drying and changes in VPD; 2) develop precision fertigation formulations for proprietary varieties; 3) develop and test crop yield prediction models. Dr Else has experience and expertise in the scientific management of linked RTO-industry projects.
Collaborator Contribution BerryGardens Growers Ltd is the UK's leading berry and stone fruit production and marketing group with sales in 2017 of £325 million, a market share in excess of 30% and a year-round business supplying most of Britain's top retailers. BGG co-ordinated partners' technical, financial and reporting inputs to ensure that all project milestones were met in full. BGG hosted the experimental trials on their member's farms in 2017 and 2018. Delta T Devices Ltd currently design, manufacture (in the UK) and sell environmental science instrumentation in over 80 countries and many products are utilised by researchers to investigate the effects of climate change and improve water and fertigation resource management. Weatherquest Ltd provides forecast services to agri-businesses and c. 500 farms. Integrating weather forecast information into soft fruit production management systems for the protection of resources, reduction of input costs, and management of disease and optimisation of crop scheduling is needed and achievable. Netafim UK Ltd are a non-grant seeking partner with key expertise in crop management technology and is the leading support company for precision control systems in the UK. Sub-contracts to NIAB EMR: Prof. Hadley (University of Reading) provided advice and guidance on using environmental metrics to predict cropping. The Technology Research Centre (TRC), did not provide the BerryVision System in good time and so we were unable to compare the accuracy with which the BerryVision system could predict ripening dates with the outputs from the variety-specific thermal time models developed in the project.
Impact The project outcomes include: 1) An improved ability to match irrigation demand with supply during changeable weather using the relationship between rate of substrate drying and VPD to improve water and nutrient use efficiencies, and crop quality; 2) Bespoke fertiliser recipes that can be used in precision fertigation regimes tooptimise Class 1 yields, fruit quality and fertiliser use efficiency for proprietary varieties; 3) New variety-specific thermal time models to improve the accuracy of crop yield and harvesting forecasts to assure higher pricing and improved grower margins; 4) The use of weather probability forecasting to predict the aerial environment within polytunnels and to provide cummulative grower degree hour (GDH) data to inform and improve the thermal time models. 5) A BerryDSS that incorporates and enhances an existing commercial irrigation scheduling service (the PIP) to help growers to improve the economic, environmental and social sustainability of their businesses. Disciplines include: Plant physiology, soft fruit agronomy, mathematical modelling, meteorology, data science, hardware and software engineering
Start Year 2016
 
Description BerryDSS Consortium Meetings NIAB EMR 2016-2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A kick-off meeting for the UK Berry DSS project was held in which consortium members introduced their companies and their technical roles and responsibilities in the project. A work plan for Quarter 1 was developed and discussed. Q1 meeting, NIAB EMR, 18 April 2016; Q2 meeting, NIAB EMR, 18 July 2016; Q3 meeting, NIAB EMR, 17 October 2016; Q4 meeting, NIAB EMR, 26 January 2017; Q5 meeting, NIAB EMR, 18 April 2017; Q6 meeting, NIAB EMR, 25 July 2017 ; Q7 meeting, NIAB EMR, 16 October 2017; Q8 meeting, NIAB EMR, 24 January 2018., Q9 meeting, NIAB EMR, 18 April 2018; Q10 meeting, NIAB EMR, 17 July 2018 ; Q11 meeting, NIAB EMR, 17 October 2018; Q12 meeting, NIAB EMR, 24 January 2019.
Meetings of the Project Exploitation Sub Group (PESG) were held throughout the project.
A Business Success and Growth Meeting will take place on 18 March 2019 at NIAB EMR.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018,2019
 
Description BerryDSS Grower Visits 2017, 2018 and 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Meetings were held with participating growers and industry representatives to plan commercial trials, to provide updates on results, to discuss conclusions and to plan further commercial trials.
B.R. Brooks and Son - meetings held on 8 September 2017 and 12 March 2018.
Kelsey Farms Ltd - meetings held on 18 September 2017, 23 February 2018, and 5 March 2019.
S.H. Chesson Partnership - meetings held on 28 September 2017, 6 December 2017 and 15 March 2018.
Place UK Ltd - meeting held on 22 February 2018.
Clock House Farm Ltd - meetings held on 2 March 2018, and 29 January 2019.
BH Savidge and Son, 3 July 2018
Delphy Agronomy Workshop, 31 January 2019
New Farm Produce Ltd on 1 February 2019
Berry Gardens Trials site on 15 February, 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019
 
Description BerryDSS Grower Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A workshop involving participating Berry Gardens Growers was held on 20 November at NIAB EMR to review and discuss the results from 2017 commercial trials, and to formulate plans for commercial trials in 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Fruit Focus 2017 and 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact NIAB EMR's research work in precision growing of soft fruit crops was showcased in the Water Efficient Technologies (WET) Centre during Fruit Focus 2017. The WET Centre was officially opened by the Rt Hon. George Eustice, Minister of State at DEFRA. Four formal tours were held throughout the day, and three interviews were given by NIAB EMR staff for local television.
Project outputs from IUK 101623, 102144 and 102640 were presented at the fruit Focus Forum in July 2018, and demonstrated in the WET Centre during x4 sessions during Fruit Focus 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description IREFQ IUK 101623 Presentations made at National and International Conferences 2014-2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Discussion of project aims and objectives with industry and demonstration of the technological approaches being used at:
EMR experimental site. Fruit Focus, EMR, 23 July 2014;
BGG Technical Day 5 November 2014;
BGG ASDA Science Day January 2015
Waitrose Science Day, 22 February 2015;
Institute of Agricultural Engineers' Annual Conference (May 2015);
AAB Knowledge Exchange Conference 20 June 2015, Lancaster University;
BBG Agronomy Team meeting, 21 July 2015, EMR;
BGG Agronomy Team meeting, 22 July 2015, EMR;
Fruit Focus 2015, 22 July 2015, EMR;
Driscoll's Rubus Conference, 12 August 2015, Ashford;
"Innovation in Agri-Tech" event, 12 October 2015, Royal Academy of Engineering, London;
Delta-T "SPAC" Conference, 13 October 2015, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden;
BGG Technical Day, 19 November 2015, Ashford;
'Innovation in Agriculture' Workshop, Canada House, 18 January 2016, London;
AHDB Soft Fruit Agronomists' Day, 11 February 2016, NIAB EMR;
Waitrose Science Day, 24 February 2016, University of Warwick;
BG Agronomy Group meeting, 20 April 2016, NIAB EMR; at Kelsey Farms Ltd to Consortium members and discussion of plans to retrofit the PI system into the entire soft fruit production area,
BG Agronomy and Grower meeting, 6 June 2016; at Kelsey Farms Ltd;
Precision Irrigation event organised by Jon Marcar (Head BG Agronomy Team) 10 August 2016;
BG Technical Day, 17 November 2016, Ashford;
AHDB Soft Fruit Day, 22 November 2016, NIAB EMR.
Launch of the "WET" Centre and Precision Irrigation Package at the BG Technical Day, 17 November 2016, Ashford.
The Fruit Focus Forum, Fruit Focus 2018, 25 July 2018, NIAB EMR
Demonstration of project outputs at the WET Centre, Fruit Focus 2018, 25 July 2918, NIAB EMR
The WET Centre Q3 Review Meeting, 16 October 2018, NIAB EMR
The AHDB Soft Fruit Day, 21 November 2018, NIAB EMR.
The BGG Technical Day, 6 December 2018, Ashford, Kent
The UKIA Spring Conference, 28 February 2019, East of England Show Ground, Peterborough
The AHDB SmartHort Conference, 6-7 March 2019, Stratford-upon-Avon
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016,2017,2018
 
Description IUK 102124 Berry DSS Presentations at Regional, National and International meetings / Conferences 2016-2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Discussion of project aims and objectives with industry and demonstration of the technological approaches being used at:
The 'Innovation in Agriculture' Workshop, Canada House, 18 January 2016, London;
The AHDB Soft Fruit Agronomists' Day, 11 February 2016, NIAB EMR;
The Waitrose Science Day, 24 February 2016, University of Warwick;
The BG Agronomy Group meeting, 20 April 2016, NIAB EMR;
Kelsey Farms Ltd to Consortium members, 6 June 2016;
Kelsey Farms Ltd to the BG Agronomy Team and BG growers at a Precision Irrigation event organised by Jon Marcar (Head BG Agronomy Team)10 August 2016;
The BGG Technical Day, 17 November 2016, Ashford;
The AHDB Soft Fruit Day, 22 November 2016, NIAB EMR.
The Fruit Focus Forum, Fruit Focus 2018, 25 July 2018, NIAB EMR
Demonstration of project outputs at the WET Centre, Fruit Focus 2018, 25 July 2918, NIAB EMR
The WET Centre Q3 Review Meeting, 16 October 2018, NIAB EMR
The AHDB Soft Fruit Day, 21 November 2018, NIAB EMR.
The BGG Technical Day, 6 December 2018, Ashford, Kent
The UKIA Spring Conference, 28 February 2019, East of England Show Ground, Peterborough
The AHDB SmartHort Conference, 6-7 March 2019, Stratford-upon-Avon
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018
 
Description Industry visits to the WET Centre at NIAB EMR 2017 and 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Water Efficient Technologies (WET) Centre
Following the completion of IUK 101623, NIAB EMR secured funding from industry partners to establish and run the WET Centre at NIAB EM. Our original business partners include Berry Gardens Growers Ltd, Cocogreen Ltd, Delta-T Devices Ltd, Netafim UK Ltd, New Leaf Irrigation Ltd. Start-up funding was also provided by Kent County Council and Southeast Water. Additional partners joining in 2018/2019 include H.L. Hutchinsons Ltd, the AHDB and Weatherquest Ltd.

The primary aim of the WET Centre is to create and maintain a UK Centre of Excellence, to support the commercialisation and sales of an integrated portfolio of precision irrigation and other leading-edge technologies for the horticultural sector. To achieve this, the Centre is demonstrating to horticultural growers how adoption of these "Best Practice" technologies can help them to optimise their irrigation productivity and financial returns. It also provides them with the necessary support and training required for successful uptake and operation. A key target is to demonstrate on a commercial scale that by combining Precision Irrigation with other leading technologies in a key crop such as protected substrate-grown strawberry, growers can achieve high yields of flavoursome phytonutritious Class 1 fruit whilst using resources more efficiently.

Visitors to the WET Centre in 2017 included the Berry Gardens Grower Research Awards Panel, Kent County Council, members of the SAI platform, and the Ferdonana project team. NIAB EMR's research on linking scientific knowledge of plant and crop physiology with innovative technologies to improve the precision, resource use efficiency and productivity of UK soft fruit production was presented and discussed.
Visitors to the WET Centre in 2018 included x25 visitors for the LEAF Innovation Centre Launch, the CEO and the KE Technical Manager of the AHDB, the AHDB Comms team, Kent County Council, HL Hutchinson Ltd, Duard Cloete of In2Food, the BerryDSS Project Consortium, ~120 visitors in x4 Demonstrations at Fruit Focus, a group of visiting Swedish Agronomists, and international clients of Netafim UK Ltd and CocoGreen Ltd.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Precision Irfrigation trials at ADESVA, Spain 2018-2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The PIP technology developed from IUK 101623 and enhanced by outputs from 102124 is currently being tested at the ADESVA Research Institute, Huelva, Spain. The PIP system is being used in substrate table-top strawberry production to try to improve the water and fertiliser use efficiencies of soft fruit production in the Donana and Huelva regions in Spain. The potential for water and fertiliser savings achieved by implementing the PIP are being compared to those achieved with a monitoring system installed by a local provider. The project is co-funded by the SAI Platform and the Coca-Cola Foundation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
 
Description RaspResil BGG Technical Day Presentations 2017 and 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact An overview of the project aims. objectives and outputs was included in a presentation made at the Berry Gardens Technical Conference in November 2017, and in December 2018, Ashford, Kent.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description SAI Platform Meetings 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact NIAB EMR's research into improving the production efficiency in the UK soft fruit industry was presented to members of the SAI Platform and the Ferdonana project team. The approaches and techniques developed by NIAB EMR have great potential for use in the Donana region of Spain to help to improve the efficiency with which irrigation water is used to produce berries on commercial farms.
in 2018, the Precision Irrigation Package (PIP) developed from IUK 101623 is currently being tested at ADESVA, a research institute nr Huelva, Spain. The PIP system is being used in substrate table-top soft fruit production to test the potential to improve water and fertiliser use efficiencies in soft fruit production. The PIP is being compared to an irrigation monitoring system supplied by a local provider. The work is funded jointly by the AI Platform and a grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description WET Centre Training courses for BGG growers and agronomists 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Two training courses on how to improve irrigation scheduling and water and fertiliser use efficiencies in UK substrate-grown soft fruit production were held at NIAB EMR on 18 and 19 January 2018. The outputs from IUK IREFQ, BerryDSS and RaspResil projects were presented to, and discussed with, Berry Gardens growers and agronomists.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018