There was an excellent attendance reflecting the current interest in innovative sustainable technologies which could have a significant impact on horticulture businesses.
The main presentation was delivered by Dr Alan Knight, Sustainable Development Commission, UK who gave his vision of the sustainability issues for the horticulture industry over the next ten years.
Alan concluded there are opportunities for horticultural businesses who grasp the challenge, with the winners making the biggest contribution to accelerating the pace of change.
‘Energy saving opportunities in horticulture’ was addressed by Tim Pratt from the Farm Energy Centre (FEC). He told businesses to take control of their heating costs by maximising fuel use efficiency and reducing heat gains/losses’.
The role of composting and recycling in horticulture was discussed by Sharon Russel-Verma of Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Sharon’s presentation demonstrated the potential benefits of using composted garden and food waste in a range of horticulture crops. The benefits include reduced need for fertilisers, increased crop yield and plant quality, better establishment, survival and growth, disease suppression and improved soil structure.
Teresa Maguire, horticultural technologist, CAFRE addressed sustainability in the horticulture industry in Australia and New Zealand which was made possible by her receiving a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship. Horticulture is a major industry in both countries and with the industry keenly aware of their limited natural resources, many businesses have integrated sustainability positively.
Teresa also highlighted the adoption of sustainability factors not only in general production with the use of water management, non peat products, biodegradable pots and pot recycling, but also in their management programmes such as accreditation and quality assurance schemes.
Much interest was generated with practical demonstrations of sustainable technologies at the Horticulture Development Centre at Greenmount Campus. These included the use of reduced peat composts, in vessel composting, biodegradable pots, rain water harvesting and using renewable energy technologies in horticulture.