Part of the EMT/AHDB Horticulture/HTA Fellowship Programme.
The fellowships are funded by the East Malling Trust (EMT), AHDB Horticulture, and the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA).
The funds provide essential underpinning funding to UK-based applied horticultural researchers working in fields of study crucial to the future efficiency and competitiveness of horticultural crops grown in Britain. Each fellowship focuses on training the next generation of applied researcher whilst delivering outputs to industry through a flexible programme of work. The work is flexible so that it can respond to the skills of the individuals undergoing training and the needs of the industry. Each fellowship is managed by a Steering Group, on behalf of the Horticultural Fellowship Governance Committee.
Funding is essential for the “maintenance or development of knowledge/skills essential to the horticultural industry”; and by securing this knowledge and skills, the Fellowship will contribute to the future efficiency and competitiveness of UK horticulture.
The broad knowledge/skill set that is addressed is that of crop responses to light and their application/exploitation in UK horticulture. This is an important topic that includes two broad areas, lighting itself and the use of “smart plastics” as cladding materials, which are united by a common basis in applying in Horticulture the scientific understanding of how plants respond to light.
Of these two, applied lighting expertise, in particular, has suffered from the loss of expert applied crop physiologists with a strong interest in light, for example Dr Steve Adams, previously of Warwick HRI. So far as we are aware, there are no young applied scientists working in the UK with the current training to replace individuals like Dr Adams, or indeed to succeed others with interests in this field who are already approaching retirement, including several of the mentors in this project.
This core focus of the fellowship is lighting, and particularly the new commercial possibilities that come from Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). LED technology has now matured sufficiently to challenge traditional lamps for supplementary and photoperiodic lighting, and to offer new possibilities for targeted spectral lighting or entirely novel designs of lighting systems. Thus, the lack of appropriate expertise in the UK comes at a key time in the development of horticultural lighting. The enormous potential of LEDs is widely recognised, and knowledge of LED lighting will be crucial to the future efficiency and competitiveness of protected crops in the UK, including those crops in propagation.