James Hutton Institute horticultural scientist nominated as Business Leader of Tomorrow

25th Jul 2014

A young horticultural scientist who has implemented changes to growing practices, which are already bringing financial benefits as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, has been nominated for the prestigious Business Leader of Tomorrow Awards.

Daniel Smith, who works for the James Hutton institute as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the Institute and S&A Produce UK Ltd in Herefordshire, has been working on a project to define and establish optimal fertigation treatments for producers.

Fertigation - the application of fertilisers, soil amendments and other water-soluble products via irrigation systems - is a key component in success for soft fruit producers like S&A Produce and Daniel’s project is already having an impact.

Since beginning the project less than 18 months ago Daniel has delivered changes that have already yielded benefits well beyond what was anticipated when the KTP was initiated. Changes to growing practices like improved monitoring and precision irrigation have resulted in reduced crop losses as well as reduced inputs, like fertiliser and water, which have amounted to significant financial savings.

Speaking about his nomination Daniel said: “I’m delighted to be nominated for the KTP Business Leader of Tomorrow Awards and that my work is making a positive contribution to the industry. The KTP between S&A and the James Hutton Institute is a prime example of how the development of closer relationships between industry and academia can result in measurable benefits that can have huge impacts across a business.”

The main aims of the KTP project are to:

  • define and establish optimal fertigation treatments to minimise inputs, minimise losses and maximise crop yield and quality
  • develop and pilot assessment techniques and protocols for crop quality assessment
  • define key parameters for fertigation protocols to impact flavour, quality and shelf-life and the transfer to new varieties
  • define the interaction between fertigation treatment and prevailing environmental conditions to develop models for optimal fertigation protocols.

Daniel’s project is being supervised by Dr Rob Hancock at the James Hutton Institute and Irene Geoghegan at S&A Produce. Knowledge Transfer Partnerships aim to help businesses grow by focusing on the development of skills, knowledge, productivity and innovation.

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