Trial results form the foundation of spray programmes
For an insight into Fruitfed Supplies’ Research and Development (R&D) programme, we spoke to Catherine James, one of the team’s five Technical Advisors responsible for conducting product trials.
Describing the team’s set up, Catherine says each Technical Advisor is specialised in one or more of these crops: vegetables, arable, pip fruit, summerfruit, subtropical fruits or grapes. Trials are conducted in the main horticultural regions with vegetable trials held around Pukekohe, subtropical fruit trials in the Bay of Plenty, apples and grape trials in Hawke’s Bay, Blenheim and Nelson. Further south, Canterbury hosts vegetable and arable crop trials.
Based in Pukekohe, Catherine’s expertise lies in setting up and conducting vegetable trials. This work sees her assessing and monitoring a product’s efficacy, crop safety and compatibility alongside other products within a spray programme.
Technical Advisors work closely with Fruitfed Supplies’ Technical Specialists. As Catherine says, “when I started in this role, I conducted trials and called on Daniel Sutton, Technical Specialist – Vegetables, for his knowledge of insect pests and diseases and for advice on the most effective way to set up the trial according to the vegetable crop. We are fortunate to have a lot of knowledgeable people across multiple crops within the business who we can contact for assistance.”
Currently the R&D team is conducting trials of, “herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, biostimulants and adjuvants to assess their crop safety and efficacy. In recent years I have noticed a shift to biologicals and Integrated Pest Management friendly products that produce low or no residues with short withholding periods,” says Catherine.
“Gathering this data for product manufacturers provides an understanding of how a product would fit within a commercial grower programme. As we sell a range of products through our Fruitfed Supplies stores, it is valuable to get a first-hand understanding and gain confidence of how a product works. Once a product is registered, we can then offer our growers recommendations based on the data we have collected from the trial,” explains Catherine.
At the completion of a successful trial, in readiness for the product’s registration for use in New Zealand, the data can be shared with Fruitfed Supplies’ network of store teams and Technical Horticultural Representatives (THR). “By having the opportunity to see how products perform in the field, including viewing the results alongside similar products, we are able to share this valuable information with our THRs and in-store teams who in turn, advise our growers.”
Field visits, conducted by the Fruitfed Supplies Technical Team, offer growers a first-hand chance to view local trials. “If a product trial has produced good results and is soon to be registered in New Zealand, we’ll invite growers on a visit to discuss our findings and give growers the chance to understand how a product has performed in the field.”
Written by Fruitfed Supplies