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R&D brings innovative solutions for horticultural growers

R&D brings innovative solutions for horticultural growers

R&D brings innovative solutions for horticultural growers

Research and Development (R&D) supports the longevity of the horticultural industry by helping bring innovative solutions to New Zealand growers. Providing an unbiased and independent process, Fruitfed Supplies’ R&D team trials products for potential registration, evaluating how they perform under local conditions.

Vonny Fasi, Fruitfed Supplies R&D Manager, believes the trials conducted by her team are a valuable source of data. To understand the breadth of trials, Vonny says 59 were conducted last season throughout the country and in all horticultural crop sectors. The products being trialled cover a wide spectrum and include plant growth regulators, biostimulants, biopesticides, agrichemicals and oils.

Looking at the trends in the types of products being trialled, Vonny says there is a clear move towards softer chemistries, biopesticides and biostimulants, with one-third of the trials conducted last season involving these products. Integrating them into crop protection programmes can prove challenging, though the methodology used in R&D trials allows the team to find the right fit.

“With a shift towards softer chemistry, we have altered our programmes to pick up the subtle differences these products have on crops.”

Vonny describes the R&D process as collaborative. “Our approach with the organisations we run our trials for allows us to be flexible in our methodology. At the end of the season, we review our fi ndings and from there determine what to do next season. This way, we can capture as much practical, in-field data as possible that can be passed onto growers when the product becomes registered for use in New Zealand.

“We run trials over multiple seasons, firstly testing a product’s effectiveness on its own, then testing it alongside others so we can build a picture of how it works within different systems. With growers the end users of a product, we need to ensure our science is strong and unbiased so we gain a good understanding of where and how a product will perform.”

Vonny says the horticultural industry is challenged by a reduction in the type and number of chemistries coming to market, along with the length of time it is taking for products to become registered. Together with trialing new products, the research conducted by the Fruitfed Supplies R&D team helps ensure the products currently available remain effective in the field.

“With the technical knowledge our team possesses, we have the capability to think outside the square. We have an overview of all the crops and the products being used within these programmes. We are therefore able to look for opportunities to use a product in an alternate way, say for example, on a different crop.”