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Funding awarded for sustainable horticultural crop protection trials in UK

Growing Kent & Medway has awarded vouchers worth £320,000 to 13 businesses to work with researchers to advance sustainable innovation in horticulture and plant-based food production. The vouchers will fund a range of projects; from boosting natural biological controls for spotted wing drosophila, to novel disease management strategies to control scab in apple crops.

Typical symptoms of apple scab

The Business Innovation Vouchers enable organisations to draw upon the expertise of technical specialists based at three research institutes in Kent and Medway. Applicants had to propose an innovative idea to help make their processes or production more sustainable. The competition was open to businesses across the horticulture and plant-based food and drink industries.

Other winning projects include investigating the impact of rock weathering on soil health and carbon capture, testing dry fogging to prevent disease in strawberry crops, and exploring alternative sustainable materials for fresh produce packaging.

Dr Nikki Harrison, Director, Growing Kent & Medway, said: "The projects we have funded demonstrate innovative thinking to tackle some of the main challenges facing UK growers. With reduced conventional control options, poor soil health, rising energy costs and the need to reduce carbon emissions, the innovation from these projects has the potential to help transform horticultural production processes. Connecting businesses with leading technical specialists in the region will not only help individual organisations become more resilient, but we hope will support sustainable practices across the supply chain. We're excited to see how they develop."

Dr Louise Sutherland, British Berry Growers said: "British Berry Growers are delighted to have been awarded a Growing Kent and Medway business innovation voucher. This is an exciting opportunity to work with NIAB's world-leading entomological team to develop a new and innovative way for UK soft fruit growers to boost natural biological controls."

The vouchers awarded to each of the 13 businesses ranged from £15,000 to £30,000. The projects will last up to 12 months and could be used in collaboration with NIAB, University of Kent or University of Greenwich. Applications closed in January 2024. Read the full list of successful projects.

For more information:
Lauren Colagiovanni
Growing Kent & Medway
[email protected]

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