Tyfu Cymru News Round-up
8th April – 14th April 2019
RHS Flower Show Cardiff kicked off this weekend, set in Bute Park in the heart of Cardiff city centre, (did you know Bute Park has the largest number of champion trees (the tallest or broadest examples of their species) of any public park in the UK?). Along with beautiful gardens, endless shopping and a plant-packed Floral Marquee, the show at Cardiff revealed how gardens can benefit our health and wellbeing. Just in case you have been too busy exploring the show, we bring you our favourite horticulture news from the week!
How does your business compare to the industry?
An extensive new analysis of the horticulture sector shows fruit and protected salad production in relatively good financial health despite ongoing challenges. The 13th annual report by Rural Business Research, part of the University of Reading, is based on Defra’s Farm Business Survey (FBS) of over 2,300 farm businesses in England and Wales, including 188 businesses in the horticulture sector – around one in 15 of all such businesses – covering the financial year 2017/18.
This found that the average profitability of all horticulture businesses increased by 9% to nearly £48,000 per business, with specialist fruit businesses seeing the largest increase up nearly 25% to just over £36,000 per business. The report puts overall UK horticultural output for 2017 at £3.6bn, or 14% to total agricultural output. Between 2008 and 2017, total horticultural output grew by 46%, with vegetables up 33% to £1.5bn, fruit up 41% to £689m, and ornamentals up 65% to £1.4bn.
Inspiring the next generation of growers...
Last week we enjoyed hearing about a new scheme which is helping to raise awareness of the farming industry amongst children - ‘FaceTime a Farmer’ pairs farmers with classes for a series of video calls throughout the year. And this week news of another great initiative to inspire the next generation was announced, which takes primary school children through the process of setting up their own farm shop business.
Farming STEMterprise is taking children through each stage of a farm business start-up, from growing their own ingredients and using market research to test ideas, to calculating expected profit and designing responsible packaging. So far over 200 teachers from around the country have been trained by the NFU education team to deliver the work in primary schools. It’s great to see such innovative initiatives being launched to help bring new talent to the industry. Keep up the good work!
Survey estimates RHS members plant 22 million plants a year....
This week a survey by RHS of 2,000 members has extrapolated that, if expanded to include all 500,000 RHS members, they plant 22 million plants a year. The plants would be worth £65m if they cost £2.99 each and £87m if they cost £3.99 each. The area those plants would cover is 245 hectares at nine plants per sqm.
The survey also showed that some 77% of members chose plants for bees, with 44% also saying they selected plants for other pollinators and 15% of members didn’t choose any plants with wildlife in mind.
We enjoyed visiting RHS Cardiff this week and taking a look at some of the plants on offer. We saw some fantastic displays featuring exceptional quality flowers. It made for a great day out! Well done to all the Welsh growers who took part.
SmartTech boosting yields …
Trials by Asda potato growers highlight that the use of smart technology, combined with training and greater supply chain collaboration, can help maximise crop yields. The trials helped to increase yields by providing growers with critical information on the development of crops earlier than normal, this was achieved through greater monitoring and measurement throughout the season.
It was also announced this week that Fieldwork Robotics has won over £500,000 in funding from Innovate UK. The money will be used to accelerate the development of its raspberry-picking robot.
Learning from Collaboration…
It was announced this week that a partnership between the South East Rivers Trust, Kent County Council and fruit industry research station NIAB EMR has been launched. The Holistic Water for Horticulture (HWH) programme will promote a whole-system approach to polytunnel growing, intended to bring multiple benefits for growers, retailers and the environment. The commitment is an ambitious agreement bringing together companies across the food and drink supply chain, including several of the largest grocery retailers, to make production more sustainable.
Plant breeders have also been co-operating in a campaign to stop illegal reproduction of legally protected varieties. Grower controls are executed at random and a tip line has been created to report on suspected illegal reproduction
Can we in Wales learn from these collaboration examples and work together to overcome common issues? Part of Tyfu Cymru’s role in building the capacity and capability of the Welsh horticulture industry involves providing support for collaboration. We also run a series of workshops and networks to help companies learn and work together. Sign up to our newsletter to keep updated on upcoming network events.