As part of our strategy to expand our membership the new membership category, Early Career Horticulturist, is in the process of being formed. We are excited to offer a place on the Council of Trustees for a person with the relative experience to apply. Details of how to apply is on the website, or if you require any further information, please contact us.

We have also held an open meeting to discuss the Education Core Interest Group. This will incorporate members of the previous Education Committee who have been guiding us and developing CPD for our members. Due to pressure of work Dr David Elphinstone, who has chaired the Education Committee for many years, has stepped down. I would like to thank David for his hard work and commitment. As you may be aware we are seeing radical changes to the education provision and funding across our industry. Helen Sessions, our Development Officer, is working in partnership with Trailblazer groups (apprenticeships) and City and Guilds (new T Levels) and other interested parties to ensure we are involved at all levels. The group will be able to offer a collective voice on behalf of CIH.

The Specialist Interest Group, Social and Therapeutic Horticulture, is in the process of electing their committee and in turn will be calling on the expertise of all the group to drive the agenda forward.

Conference arrangements are well underway with an exciting line up of speakers. It will give attendees the opportunity to update progress in various parts of the industry

and catch up with friends. Edinburgh is in a good situation to extend your visit should you wish to visit the Highlands or Northumberland.

Industry news

Water shortage is of some concern. June rainfall was down 74% in England, and during July authorities have reported that river levels are significantly lower than usual in some areas. This will put added pressure on growers who are already feeling the strain in other areas.

DEFRA have recently published the Automation in Horticulture Review. The challenges of labour shortages have had a significant impact on production, field rig and mechanical systems, packhouse automation and optimised production systems have led to increased productivity. Further developments forming the next wave include autonomous selective harvesting, utilising mobile robotic systems that autonomously navigate growing environments. Identifying, and harvesting crops, artificial intelligence (AI) or collaborative robotics, improving a worker’s productivity through technology and autonomous crop protection, monitoring, and forecasting. The fragmented and diverse nature of horticulture, raising capital for investment and the lack of independent information are some of the hurdles that need to be overcome.

Susan Nicholas FCIHort