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Young horticultural scientist scoops Business Leader of Tomorrow award

Daniel Smith (center), winner of BLT 2014 award (courtesy S&A Group)
"Daniel’s findings will have a significant impact in enhancing the sustainability of the UK strawberry growing industry.

A young horticultural researcher who has implemented changes to fruit growing practices which are already bringing financial benefits as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, has been awarded the Business Leader of Tomorrow prize at this year’s prestigious Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) Awards in London.

Daniel Smith, who works for the James Hutton Institute as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with S&A Group in Herefordshire, has been developing optimal ways to apply fertilisers, soil amendments and other water-soluble products via irrigation systems, a process known as fertigation.

Fertigation is a key component in success for soft fruit producers like S&A and Daniel’s project is already having an impact. Since beginning the project, 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.

On being awarded the prize, Daniel said: “I’m delighted to have been recognised with 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.”

Dr Robert Hancock, the academic supervisor of the project at the James Hutton Institute, welcomed the award. “Daniel’s success in winning this prestigious honour is a reflection of his hard work, dedication and innovation.

“Given the size of the operation at S&A, Daniel’s findings will have a significant impact in enhancing the sustainability of the UK strawberry growing industry.”

On behalf of S&A Produce, Irene Geoghegan commented: “We are delighted that Daniel has won this award; he’s inventive, resourceful and absolutely deserves this accolade. His positive input into the development of novel strawberry growing techniques has maximised yield and fruit quality whilst minimising inputs for the farm.”

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is a UK-wide programme linking commercial organisations with academic institutions to help support and shape the future of British business. Its primary objective is to help businesses grow through improved innovation, competitiveness and productivity via better use of the knowledge, technology and skills available within universities and other parts of the UK.

It is funded by Innovate UK, along with 12 other public sector partners, and aims to strengthen the competitiveness, wealth creation and economic performance of the UK by enhancing knowledge and skills, and stimulating innovation through collaboration.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of Innovate UK, said: “The calibre of entries for this year’s KTP Awards has been phenomenal. But only the best of the best have made it past our independent panel, so to be represented at the awards is a huge achievement.

“Since the programme’s inception in 2003, over 8,500 partnerships have been established, and over the years all of our winners have had outstanding successes in their respective fields. The sheer diversity of sectors and industries that have benefited from the support and involvement of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is a fantastic testament to British talent and ingenuity in business.”

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Printed from /news/young-horticultural-scientist-scoops-business-leader-tomorrow-award on 28/02/24 04:07:15 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.