News

New Nuffield Farming Report published – Richard Harrison: ‘Where next for soft fruit in the UK?

Cambridge-based genetics researcher Richard Harrison NSch 2018 has published his Nuffield Farming Report titled ‘Where next for soft fruit in the UK?’, sponsored jointly by The Worshipful Company of Gardeners and The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers. The report is now available on the Nuffield International website at www.nuffieldinternational.org/live/reports or can be downloaded directly at https://bit.ly/3cTBgE5.

Richard presented his findings at the 2019 Nuffield Farming Conference, and the video can be found at https://bit.ly/3cIimzO

Study Objectives

This study tour considered how to improve efficiency and productivity in the soft fruit industry in the face of increasing uncertainty (political, environmental & economic). Key objectives were to:

  1. Understand some of the key developments in research and technology
  2. Estimate whether it is realistic for deployment, on farm, of new technology and whether these are sustainable
  3. Identify the barriers to new technology being adopted and potential solutions

Countries Visited

UK, USA, Canada, Netherlands, South Africa

Messages

  1. Genetics is an easy way to make environmentally sustainable yield gain in horticultural crops- we have more tools than ever before and the UK is well-placed to lead.
  2. Energy consumption in agriculture is rising and new production systems must ‘design to avoid’ and be developed with an awareness of wider energy and sustainability policies.
  3. It is currently very hard to say what is good and bad; more sophisticated lifecycle analysis and digital twinning is needed to quantify externalities of production and shape the design of new systems.
  4. In a new UK agricultural policy landscape there could be further direct incentives to lower fossil fuel energy and transfer to renewable usage through a “produce or reduce” energy incentivisation scheme for green energy.
  5. Every consumer is responsible, but largely unaware of our actions. Technology could help raise awareness of sustainably produced fresh produce and help shift consumer behaviour.