Horticulture encompasses several occupations and skills involved in the cultivation of various edible and ornamental plants. Fresh fruit and vegetables are fundamental to a healthy diet, but the UK depends heavily on imports, particularly during out-of-season periods, and on migrant labour.

The UK horticultural food supply is affected by the growing costs of food production, worsened by uncertain and fluctuating environmental conditions caused by global climate change, such as the recent extreme weather events in Spain and North Africa. One of the options to mitigate these risks is through innovations in production or the adoption of new technologies to increase efficiency. For example, funding from Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme and UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge has facilitated the development of projects in the sector. Some emerging technologies include the use of robotics for precision agriculture, automated plant monitoring, drones for pest and disease identification, alternative growth medias and genetic modification to introduce desirable traits into horticultural crops.

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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