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Growing technical knowledge to benefit growers

Growing technical knowledge to benefit growers

Growing technical knowledge to benefit growers

Since taking on the leadership role of the Research and Development (R&D) and Technical Extension teams at Fruitfed Supplies, internally known as the Technical Team, Kevin Manning has seen a greater focus on sharing the knowledge gained through R&D trials to the wider Fruitfed Supplies team, growers and the industry as a whole.

With each Technical Specialist having specific experience in either vegetables, subtropical fruits, plant nutrition, viticulture or pipfruit and summerfruit, the company’s Technical Horticultural Representatives (THRs) are equipped to provide growers with recommendations based on the latest trial results and developments for a crop.

“We train our THRs and in-store teams so they are continually up to date across different crops including new products to market. We take the knowledge we gain from our R&D trials and turn it into practical applications for THRs to take to growers. This includes producing spray programmes across all the crop types.”

Kevin says the team contributes to the wider horticultural industry. “We offer some unique insights into current issues due to our representation in the field, with THRs working across multiple crops. Our technical knowledge puts us in a good position to help.” 

Research is still a major component of the group’s work. Product trials are conducted in the main growing regions of New Zealand with vegetable trials being held around Pukekohe, subtropical trials in the Bay of Plenty, apples and grape trials in Hawke’s Bay as well as in Blenheim and Nelson. Further south, Canterbury hosts vegetable and arable crop trials.

As Kevin explains, these trials, “look at new product solutions to help grow the industry and allows us to gain a good understanding of how a product will fit into an integrated production system.”

For product manufacturers, the Fruitfed Supplies’ team offer a unique understanding of the marketplace. “We’re a reliable operator for manufacturers to conduct trials. With our THRs meeting growers every day, we understand the current issues and this knowledge allows us to help manufacturers form meaningful research programmes and identify suitable trial sites,” says Kevin.  

Currently, the R&D team is trialling fungicides for disease control, herbicides for weed control while also focusing on biological products. As Kevin says, “in addition to insect pest, disease and weed control products, we have a strong focus on trialling biostimulants which increase crop productivity and improve plant recovery.”

To communicate the outcomes of R&D trials to Fruitfed Supplies clients, the Technical Team travels the country to hold crop-specific meetings. These meetings provide growers with an overview of what has shaped the last season for a crop, what new products are arriving on the market and how they may fit into the growers’ own production system.