In 2009, Oliver Doubleday, G H Dean’s CEO at the time was invited to China to give a lecture on sustainable fruit growing. This was part of the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Network (SAIN), a cooperative initiative sponsored by the UK and Chinese governments. Various visits from Chinese growers followed; most recently, in June 2019, a delegation came to look at various fruit growing systems. We showed the group around Hempstead Farm and took them to neighbouring farms owned by Hugh Boucher and AC Goatham. Here at Hempstead, we explained how, through careful pruning, we prioritise efforts to optimise fruit quality while reducing labour requirements at harvest time. We shared details of our pruning and fertilising regimes and Neil Franklin from Agrii, our agronomic adviser, explained how we use weather station data (temperature, relative humidity, leaf wetness, etc.) to drive predictive pest and disease models that have reduced our use of agri-chemicals. David Butler our fruit manager, showed how we introduce Typhlodromus pyri predatory mites into our pear orchards to help control a particularly difficult pest called pear sucker. Such strategies lead to la reduction in chemical applications. Our guests also viewed the British Cherry Growers grading facilities at Hempstead Farm and the apple grader at Goatham’s farm.
As a LEAF demonstration farm, we are proudly committed to delivering and promoting sustainable farming through Integrated Farm Management. We feel it is important to share best practise with growers at home and from around the world. Sustainable agriculture provides a potential solution to enable agricultural systems to feed a growing population within changing environmental conditions.
Photo: Hosts with Chinese Delegation in one of our cherry orchards. Left to right including: Prof Tong, Dr Oliver Doubleday, Prof David Poulson, Dr Robert Saville, Sarah Franklin, Prof David Norse, David Butler, Dr Yuelai Lu, Neil Franklin and Tim Malpas.