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The English Apple Man


12th May 2023 - Mid may

It is mid May and most apple blossom has passed the full bloom stage (just) and we now wait to see what transpires from the fertilisation period. e.g. "what will the fruit set look like? - growers with the help of their advisors, will be trying to decide what level of thinng is required


Yesterday The English Apple Man joined circa 100 members of the fruit fraternity at the annual BIFGA Technical Day.


Always a well attended and enjoyable event, this year three farms in the Weald of Kent acted as hosts.


A. Northiam Farm Horsmonden


B. Amesbury Farm


C. Loddington Farm



In this week's Journal The English Apple Man will report on some of the presentations.


Northiam Farm


Rootwave Rootwave eWeeder for Top Fruit and Vineyards


RootWave Pro is an award-winning professional hand eWeeder designed for large parks, gardens and estates. It provides targeted control of weeds including invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed because it quickly treats the weed boiling it from the root upwards; customers report significantly less grow-back.


Our specialist machine for orchards and vineyards will be launched in the UK in 2024, and can be pre-ordered now. Fruit growers are likely to be excited by the latest data from the trials in the UK.


The trials were conducted by independent Contract Research Organisations (CRO) during the summer of 2022 in commercial orchards in the West of England. Test plots were replicated comparing typical chemical herbicide programmes, mechanical hoeing and untreated controls.


Below: Left. RootWave hand held unit and right Tractor version available in 2024



Harvest Agri


Below: left presentation of Harvest Agri services & equipment and right. the AGRETO soil compaction tester



The AGRETO soil compaction tester is made from stainless steel (including the handles) and is practical, accurate, easy to use and guaranteed for 5 years. The probe is 750 mm long and marked at 75 mm intervals. The pressure gauge uses a traffic light scale (Green, amber, red ) with two scales in order to be used with both the 19 mm and the 13 mm tip. The smaller tip is most commonly used for unworked soils. Most roots are not able to penetrate soil which has a compaction reading of more than 250 pounds per square inch (approx. 1800 kPa). Inadequate root growth results in sub optimal uptake of the available nutrients.


Harvest Agri Soil Testing


HL Hutchinson Ltd: Omnia, TerraMap and Easy Plan


HL Hutchinson OMNIA specialist James Lane presented the capabilities of Omnia services. Particularly the precision benefits of TerraMap and Omnia Digital Map



Omnia As agronomists and professional advisors we are continually investigating new technologies and working practices to increase productivity, efficiency and profitability.


That's why we developed Omnia, to tie together the newest technologies with expert insight to help growers improve their efficiency, productivity and profitability. By targeting agronomy at its core, Omnia makes it easier than ever for growers and agronomists to access and interpret their information to make management decisions.


Terramap Mapping layers at over 800 data points per hectare, TerraMap (powered by SoilOptix® Technology) enables growers and agronomists to make the most of precision technology.


Click on OMNA Digital Farming


NP Seymour


On the NP Seymour Stand, the Munckhoff Harvest Machine featured, with each individual harvest bin automatically linked to harvest data. Apple numbers, and quality aligned to each bin via a bar code. The harvest data collector is located on top of the harvester.


Below: left: The Munckhoff Harvester and right. the computer (brain) unit on top of the machine



NP Seymour, the UK's leading fruit and vine machinery dealership, is thrilled to announce the addition of Munckhof Fruit Tech Innovators' sprayers and picking platforms to its range of specialist machinery.


The new partnership will provide British fruit growers with access to Munckhof's cutting-edge orchard and vineyard sprayers, and Pluk-O-Trak harvesting machines, as well as an enhanced level of service, maintenance, and parts supply.


Based in the Netherlands, Munckhof Fruit Tech Innovators has been at the forefront of developing and manufacturing picking platforms and precision sprayers for more than 100 years.


More recently, over the last 10 years, Munckhof has focused heavily on drift reduction of sprays and precision farming, incorporating GPS technology, image capture via drones, and data collection to enable crop protection and fertilisation down to tree level.


By joining forces with NP Seymour, Munckhof is now looking forward to strengthening its position in the UK fruit and viticulture sector, benefiting from the wealth of experience and strong relationships with growers that the Seymour family-run dealership has developed and nurtured over almost 50 years.


Claire Seymour, Director at NP Seymour, commented that partnering is an exciting step for the Kent-based dealership, particularly for founder Nick, who has long had his eye on the quality sprayers produced by the Dutch manufacturer.


This is only part of our excellent BIFGA technical briefing. The English Apple Man will report on other aspects of our day in future EAM Journals.


Below: These historic trees in full bloom caught my eye!




Food and farming groups baffled and angered by Defra decision to ditch plans to publish a horticulture strategy


Farming groups have expressed anger and dismay at the government's decision to scrap plans to co-produce a comprehensive horticulture strategy to support and grow the sector.


In a written parliamentary q&a last week (2 May), Defra farming minister Mark Spencer told shadow minister for climate change Kerry McCarthy that the government will not be developing a published strategy for the horticulture sector as originally envisaged in the Government Food Strategy, reasoning that the sector "operates in a complex, ever-evolving commercial and political landscape".


Instead, he said Defra is prioritising policy work that "maximises impact through multiple avenues, this includes establishing the seasonal worker visa route, the labour review, automation, the Farming Innovation Programme and the Farming Investment Fund and working across government on energy support and planning".


The hope within the UK horticulture sector, which is battling sky-high input costs, labour issues and low margins, was that the promised government strategy would provide a blueprint for supporting the production and consumption of British grown fruit and vegetables.


Commenting on the government u-turn, NFU horticulture board chair Martin Emmett said: "The UK horticulture sector has enormous potential to deliver increased food security, more skilled jobs, and a positive environmental impact for the country. But with costs rising and the sector seeing worrying falls in production, it is beyond comprehension why the government would choose to backtrack from its commitment to develop a horticulture growth strategy.


"The NFU's own horticulture growth strategy highlights the top ten policy priorities that need addressing to deliver long term sector growth, from energy to water, planning and productivity. But these cannot be delivered in isolation as they are interlinked and a failure to address one policy barrier can completely undermine any improvements in another. That is why a sector strategy is needed and why it is imperative that the government becomes a champion for UK horticulture."


Vicki Hird, head of farming at campaign group Sustain, described the move as "an appalling, backwards step". In a blog posted yesterday (9 May), she wrote: "I'm angry for the lost opportunities but also on behalf of the great growers I meet who do so much to deliver healthy products and address environmental and other issues. Why a horticulture strategy is not a top governmental priority baffles me given the shelves empty of veg earlier this year and the very high probability that this will reoccur, and with greater frequency, as climate instability starts to play havoc with our supplies here and overseas."


Last week Ali Capper, executive chairwoman of British Apples and Pears, told Farmers Weekly that Defra's decision "beggars belief". "It is an extraordinary decision," she said. "It is even more extraordinary that the minister appears to be making that decision at a time when the industry is in crisis and on a knife edge."


Responding to the FPJ, a Defra spokesperson said: "The domestic horticulture sector is crucial to the resilience of our food system as well as an important part of our wider economy and we're committed to supporting it. That's why we're expanding the number of seasonal workers available to growers this year, boosting investment through the Farming Innovation Programme and the Farming Investment Fund and working across government on energy support and planning."


The Government Food Strategy, launched on 13 June 2022, set an ambition to make UK producers more competitive, and to promote sustainable growth in the horticulture sector, through increased fruit and vegetable production and adoption of a range of growing models, he added.


"We are currently exploring barriers and opportunities in horticultural operations. As this work progresses, we will work with industry to explore a range of policy opportunities and developments," the Defra spokesman said.



That is all for this week


Take care


The English Apple Man