Yara UK have announced a ground-breaking partnership with NIAB EMR, in which the two bodies will share and develop research together for the benefit of all growers. The ambitious alliance will begin in the UK and focus on developing high-performance irrigation and moisture-sensing technologies in commercial horticulture, before extending internationally in the next few years. Both groups are united in their mission to address the challenges of sustainable food production.

The Water Efficient Technologies (WET) Centre, managed by the horticultural research organisation NIAB EMR in collaboration with a number of commercial partners with further support from AHDB and LEAF, opened in July 2017.  The Centre aims to reduce the amount of water and fertiliser needed to grow high-quality, full-flavoured fruit, while simultaneously optimising marketable yield and berry quality. Although The WET Centre’s current focus is on soft fruit, there is equal potential to improve irrigation performance for other crops in the future.

As part of the new partnership, Yara UK will be undertaking sample testing for The WET Centre, before building on that research with NIAB EMR and The WET Centre partners. This is the first of a possible series of future research collaborations between Yara UK and NIAB EMR, and ultimately its parent company NIAB.

Yara UK is keen to demonstrate their commitment to the UK fruit industry through this initial partnership, which will eventually broaden to incorporate international projects. Professor Mario Caccamo, Managing Director of NIAB EMR, says: “We warmly welcome Yara UK as a partner in The WET Centre, joining a successful innovative project dedicated to improving resource use efficiency and crop productivity in soft fruit crops. We see this as a first step in the development of future collaborations between Yara UK and NIAB, focused on developing and sharing national and international crop research opportunities.”

Giz Gaskin, Fruit Expert at Yara, gives Kenya as an example of where shared goals could align. “NIAB EMR is currently working with Kenyan growers on developing fertigation for the production of beans,” says Mr Gaskin. “Yara Kenya has recently put a focus on supporting growers with fertigation solutions expected to increase crop productivity and quality. The two share an identical goal in supporting Kenyan growers – working together would benefit local communities, the environment, Yara, NIAB EMR and, ultimately, the growers themselves.”
Dr Mark Else, Head of Crop Science and Production Systems at NIAB EMR agrees: “There is much valuable work done in the private sector. Yara, in particular, is well known for its strong research base. We are delighted that our two organisations have come together to collaborate in The WET Centre. Sharing knowledge and expertise is the way we will make progress toward our shared goal of creating truly sustainable food systems.”