UK: Photo report British Tomato Conference

The British Tomato Conference was successfully held last Thursday in the Royal Court Hotel in Coventry, UK. Attended by many Tomato Growers Association (TGA) members, non TGA members and others such as horticultural suppliers, scientists and researchers, the event was not only a fine learning experience, but also a great opportunity to network at the pre-conference night and trade show floor.

This year's conference program was set up around the theme 'Lighting the way to the future", as supplementary lighting is a hot topic in UK's greenhouse industry. British supermarkets are screaming out for local produce and some retailers are even aiming to double the amount of British produce in their shelves by 2020, this could a reality thanks to the effort put in by the British growers and the TGA to promote British produce amongst consumers on the domestic market. All of the UK grown tomatoes are sold for good money on the domestic market and the growers can't supply the increasing demand with the producing acreage. Besides building new greenhouses to full-fill the demand, growers are also looking to produce year round by the use of supplementary lighting and LEDs are one of the options for them to invest in.

This was one of the reasons that Esther van Echtelt, application specialist for horticultural lighting at Philips, head sponsor of the conference, gave an overview of the projects and research Philips has done in the past with the use of LED inter lighting in combination with HID top lighting in tomatoes. More recently, Philips also announced the first 100% LED trial. The installation of both LED top and inter lighting at the commercial tomato nursery from Melrow Salads, is a good example that the British growers are willing and dare to invest in sustainable innovation to increase production and year round supply.

"There is still lots to be learned," added Phil Davis, researcher at Stockbridge Technology Centre in his presentation "The LED Lighting Revolution" that focussed on the light spectra's in relation to photosyntheses and plant productivity. STC is conducting research with leds in their LED4CROPS facility.

A summary from presentations of Esther van Echtelt and Phil Davis will be featured in articles on later this week, as will a summary of some interesting presentations from the rest of the speaker program featuring energy, crop protection, nutrient emission, energy, and grafting topics as well as a presentation on the possibilities of lycopeen as added value. 

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