Sustainable Growing Systems
Maintaining biological diversity is a cornerstone of the drive towards future sustainable growing systems, and ornamental horticulture is presented with challenges to be overcome as we move towards that future.
CHAP - Crop Health and Protection, is a UK Agri-Tech Innovation Centre funded by Innovate UK. CHAP brings together leading researchers, farmers, growers, and innovators to understand the challenges of crop production, drive research and innovation and develop and test solutions to transform the way we grow and bring crops to market.
The Drive to Maintain Biodiversity
CHAP has a range of unique capabilities located around the country that are supporting the drive to maintain biodiversity. For example, biopesticides as replacements for neonicotinoids will play an important role in helping growers to manage spray residues in flowering plants to protect the health of pollinating insects.
CHAP’s Changing Perceptions campaign is raising awareness of our facilities linked to biopesticide development. One of CHAP’s more recently launched capabilities, the National Reference Collection, maintained in conjunction with CHAP partners CABI and FERA, aims to improve industry’s ability to access potential candidates for new biopesticides as well as providing crucial target species for traditional pesticide development.
This online database is the first of its kind for the UK, offering access to and storage of crop-related microorganisms to help inform the development of new biopesticides.
A significant obstacle to determining the true potential of new biopesticide products and integrated pest management programmes is the need for carefully designed experiments in order to demonstrate their effectiveness. Commercial scale trials, often required for product registrations, necessitate the use of flexible glasshouse designs, so that methodologies can be matched to products, while avoiding cross-contamination.
The CHAP Advanced Glasshouse Facility at Stockbridge Technology Centre achieves this by allowing controlled and customised trials to be undertaken on a range of crops.
Detection of Crop Disease
Early-stage disease detection of fungal pathogens can help with the timing of crop protection interventions in the greenhouse. To help address this challenge, CHAP’s Fine Phenotyping Laboratory, based at Rothamsted Research, uses cutting-edge imaging technology to automate the detection of crop pests and diseases
This provides for assessment of their impact on plant performance, and to determine the effectiveness of control strategies.
The facility provides developers of bio-pesticides and other new control measures a resource to assess the effectiveness of their products under carefully controlled conditions using a range of criteria. Its multi-spectral imaging capability will also be of interest to developers of remote sensing platforms who need to determine the ‘spectral signatures’ of the diseases and pests they need to target.