Field Vegetables

Field Vegetables

Field Vegetables

Field Vegetable Sector Priorities


The UK Field Vegetable sector is currently valued at approximately £885 million, covers an area of over 132,000 ha producing 2.5 tonnes of product.  It is the largest of the six AHDB Horticulture sector panels - currently contributing over 30% of the total levy income. 

The primary focus of AHDB Horticulture's R&D programme has traditionally been crop protection, accounting for 50% of the research budget in the past three years, ensuring that industry has a functional armoury with which to control economically important pests and diseases, whilst delivering a safe and high quality product to the consumer. 

AHDB Horticulture in consultation with vegetable grower associations, researchers, industry, the Field Vegetables Panel and AHDB Horticulture members have identified five key objectives for future profit enhancing research and development in the field vegetable sector:

1. Ensuring that adequate and sustainable crop protection measures are available for the main crop protection risks.

This continues to be a top priority, increasingly so with the significant impact of the UK and EU pesticide reviews and other legislation on the availability and use of crop protection products. To achieve this objective, the AHDB Horticulture EAMU programme will remain of paramount importance, in conjunction with the ongoing pesticide gap analysis, which is being used to identify gaps in the armoury in order that alternative products and approaches can be developed. Sufficient active ingredients will be sought to maintain anti-resistance strategies. Emphasis will be on new chemistry with improved environmental profiles, and on non-chemical approaches, moving towards pesticide-free produce as a medium to long-term goal (as identified in the vegetable foresight initiative). Organic extensions to all appropriate new projects will be encouraged.

2. Increasing returns on investment through the efficient use of resources.

Optimising the targeting of resources to improve farm efficiency, reduce variation and improve product quality, especially through increased automation, precision agronomy, water, soil and waste management.

3. Supply consistent quality product and continuity of supply to achieve customer satisfaction.

Breeding for Pest & Disease resistance and quality attributes, whilst not an AHDB Horticulture activity, this should reflect the priorities of the industry as outlined in the strategy. This objective also includes improving storage regimes to reduce losses and retain quality, and optimising nutrition and harvest scheduling. 

4. Ensure a co-ordinated approach to R&D and technology transfer to farm level.

This will ensure that the advances made are taken up and used for the benefit of the UK industry as a whole. AHDB Horticulture are aiming to improve links with allied levy bodies, DEFRA and consultants, and fully support European initiatives to achieve this aim. Review projects can help to condense knowledge from recent and current research (not only from AHDB, but including national, European and International work) and make this accessible to growers. This objective also encompasses the importance of coordination of the EAMU programme with European partners for mutual cost savings.

5. Provide information, which can be used to promote consumption of home grown vegetables.

Heightening the awareness of consumers to the health benefits of vegetables and encouraging consumption will help expand the market and push the industry forward. In this respect the industry and the government-funded Bangor Project has clearly shown that long-lasting beneficial results are achievable.

AHDB Horticulture Research and Knowledge Transfer Managers review Crop Industry Priorities (shown at the bottom of the page) via Grower Association technical committees every 2-3 years. The content of these documents is collated to form the FV Sector Priorities document (link below). This document enables AHDB Horticulture, in collaboration with industry representatives on the FV Panel, to forward plan a strategy to deliver good quality, impactful and valuable R&D and KE to the UK vegetable industry.

Cathryn Lambourne

Field Crops Team Leader

View the Field Vegetables sector priorities 2018-2019



Grower Association Research Priorities:

The documents listed below have been written in collaboration with AHDB Horticulture whose aim is to help British horticulture become more efficient, competitive, resilient and sustainable through the funding of applied research & knowledge exchange.
Levy investment utilises a strategic approach that concentrates on six broad programmes of activity – Crop protection [pest, disease, weeds], Inputs [energy, nutrition, water], Soil & Substrates [soil health & fertility, growing media], Cropping systems [engineering, smart technology & tools, production systems], Genetics [crop improvement, novel crops], and Utilisation & Value [cooling, storage, packing, supply chains, markets etc.]. 
Allocation of funding by AHDB Horticulture’s Field Vegetables Panel addressing these key overarching areas follows the Panel Priorities as above, which are informed by the individual grower groups who own and develop their own priority or strategy documents as below: 


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