The UK soft fruit industry can now benefit from established energy and cost saving advice following the extension of the GrowSave programme.
FEC Energy and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) have agreed to broaden the programme to UK soft fruit grown under protection.
GrowSave has been operated by FEC Energy on behalf of AHDB, for over a decade, successfully delivering energy saving advice to the protected cropping horticultural industry.
Scott Raffle, Knowledge Exchange Manager at AHDB, said: “AHDB has been aiding the glasshouse sector for years by funding the GrowSave scheme to develop energy saving and improve environmental control. By expanding this to focus on glasshouse soft fruit growers, we hope to be able to rapidly improve knowledge and expertise in this area.”
“Modest energy savings could equate to big financial returns, which have proven successful for the traditional protected edible and ornamental sectors.”
GrowSave specialises in sharing technical knowledge on glasshouse structures, ventilation, lighting, heating, storage and cooling, boilers, pumping and climate control.
Salih Hodzhov, AHDB Soft Fruit Panel member said: “Labour shortages, loss of plant protection products and restrictions on water usage are making it more challenging to grow crops.
“GrowSave can and will help growers to adopt a different way of growing. Bringing all the knowledge from glasshouse growing to field crops grown under protection, could help us achieve better results without huge capital investments.”
GrowSave has already had some involvement with the soft fruit sector, having organised a study tour to Belgium and the Netherlands in early 2017, and will build on the relationships developed.
For those wanting to get involved, the first GrowSave event will be held on 19 November. ‘Glasshouse heating and lighting for soft fruit’ will focus on how improving heating and lighting can benefit your crops. More information can be found at horticulture.ahdb.org.uk/events