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Soft fruit growers told about Brexit impact and opportunities

Jonnie Hall (NFUS) speaks at SSCR Soft Fruit Winter Meeting 2019
“Brexit will have a very profound impact on Scottish agriculture, in terms of trade, labour supply and future support policy. However, change is required anyway, and Brexit should be the catalyst for change, not the reason for it”

While Brexit can be viewed as a very real threat to the future of Scottish agriculture, it must also now be viewed as an opportunity, albeit not an easy one to grasp. That was one of the main messages of the Soft Fruit Winter Meeting of the Scottish Society for Crop Research (SSCR), held at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee.

Speaking at the event, Jonnie Hall, NFUS Director of Policy, discussed the current state of Scottish agriculture, what it really delivers, the case for support, the principles upon which it should be built and the conditions that should be attached, plus the influence of the current EU regulatory environment.

Mr Hall said: “The EU referendum result has shrouded Scottish agriculture in a veil of uncertainty, at a point when confidence was at an all-time low.

“Brexit will have a very profound impact on Scottish agriculture, in terms of trade, labour supply and future support policy. However, change is required anyway, and Brexit should be the catalyst for change, not the reason for it.”

Soft fruit growers also heard from Fiona Highet, senior entomologist at SASA, who reviewed the importance of wild and managed pollinators.

Ms Highet commented: “Pollinators face many challenges, including pests and diseases which may spread between wild and managed populations and can reduce their service capabilities. It is essential to increase awareness of the main issues affecting pollinator health, including what to look out for and what to do if a problem is spotted.

“There are a number of ways in which landowners and growers can make positive changes to improve the health and welfare of both wild and managed bees on their property - benefitting the local environment, optimising pollination services and improving overall crop health.”

Delegates also were updated on the progress of the James Hutton Institute’s blackberry, blueberry and raspberry breeding programmes, and also about monitoring and management of pests and diseases such as spotted wing drosophila and raspberry root rot.

Work to assess the implications of warmer winters for blackcurrant production was also presented, by Dr Katharine Preedy from Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS).

“Blackcurrants have particularly high chill requirements and so are already seeing the effects of milder winters. If we can understand what blackcurrants need to grow in a changing climate, we can apply our knowledge to similar crops like blueberries, cherries, apples and plums,” Dr Preedy said.

Alison Dolan, secretary of the SSCR soft fruit subcommittee, commented: "As conditions evolve for soft fruit production, the Society is glad to present the latest research to growers, industry and the wider public."

Trade exhibitors at the soft fruit meeting included Agrovista, Brinkman, Engage-Agro, Fargro, James Hutton Limited, Koppert, Omex Agriculture, Ripple Aquaplast, Solufeed and XL Horticulture.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/soft-fruit-growers-told-about-brexit-impact-and-opportunities on 19/09/19 08:31:23 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.