Seth Pascoe  -  Advancing British seabuckthorn (hippophae rhamnoides) production by evaluating international agronomic practices

NFU Mutual Charitable Trust

 Despite not being from an agricultural background, I have been involved in this fantastic industry from an early age.

I’m an agronomist for Procam SW, living and working in beautiful Cornwall.  I’m very fortunate in the fact that I thoroughly enjoy my job. I am very enthusiastic about agronomy/crop management and generally the agriculture industry as a whole.

I graduated with an honours degree in crop production at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. I initially trained and worked as an agronomist in the UK fresh produce industry, followed by a four-year spell spent managing an arable farm in Alberta, Canada.

In my personal life I am an active member of Charlestown Rowing Club. We row and race Cornish Pilot Gigs; an old fashioned wooden boat crewed by six rowers and a coxswain. I also really enjoy hiking/scrambling. I generally try and get away once a year or so to go and climb in various mountain ranges across the world. Closer to home, I enjoy taking my dog for walks around Cornwall, in particular the South West Coast Path.

I am incredibly grateful to both the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust and the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust for this fantastic life-changing opportunity.

I first came across seabuckthorn when I was trekking in the high Himalayas. Once the altitude sickness became intolerable the Sherpas offered us a fruit juice that they drank to alleviate some of the symptoms. It tasted delicious and whilst it may have been a placebo, I certainly felt better. It sparked my curiosity and I spent the following days enthusiastically talking to the Sherpa’s to discover everything I could about the plant. Upon my return to Cornwall, I carried on with my research and became increasingly interested in this unique crop. 

The berries produced by seabuckthorn have an excellent nutritional profile, full of vitamins, omega oils, antioxidants, flavonoids and carotenoids. Whilst the term “superfood” is used a little too freely and often un-substantiated, this is one crop that could justify such a claim. 

At present seabuckthorn is very much a minor crop within the UK. The plant grows in the wild across the British countryside, but there are very few growers actually cultivating the crop. Consequently, British growers are on a steep learning curve and any expertise on this crop has to be sourced internationally.

By undertaking this study I hope to enhance our knowledge and understanding of seabuckthorn production and raise the profile of the crop within the UK.

I would like to reiterate my gratitude to both the NFU Charitable Trust and the Nuffield Farming Scholarship for their generosity and support.