Horticulture and Potatoes activity update

Wind-down and transition of AHDB Horticulture and AHDB Potatoes activity, 21/22.

Wednesday 9th June, 2021

Following the recent ballots in AHDB’s Horticulture and Potatoes sectors, the AHDB Board has agreed a programme of managed wind-down and transition of levy payer activities for these sectors during 2021/22.   

  • This programme is subject to a Ministerial decision on the future of selected activities, which is expected by Summer 2021.
  • The programme has been put together following detailed advice from AHDB’s Horticulture and Potato Sector Boards (details and timings are set out below).
  • AHDB is making funding provision for current research programmes in Horticulture and Potatoes to the end of the research contract. 42 research contracts will end by March 2022.
  • Subject to a Ministerial decision, the remaining research contracts and other technical work that is wanted and valued by growers, but might need a managed transition, will be reviewed to ensure levy payers do not lose the value of their investment to date in these projects.
  • All other activity for Horticulture and Potatoes during 2021/22 will be stopped at appropriate points in the growing season.
  • Staffing levels will be managed accordingly across the year.

In Potatoes, all new storage research at Sutton Bridge will stop from now onwards, with a limited Knowledge Exchange service available until the end of May 2022. This will be to complete data and analysis work associated with the current trials programme and support for the industry for storage trials with alternative suppliers.

On the principle that other AHDB sectors should not bear the cost of the wind-down and transition, AHDB Horticulture and AHDB Potatoes will continue to fund their share of committed cross sector activity programmes during 21/22.

AHDB Horticulture and Potatoes work will be archived and will be made accessible online to levy payers by March 2022 to ensure the industry can continue to benefit longer term from its investment.

Communications to Horticulture and Potatoes levy payers

Results from Horticulture and Potatoes work continuing in 21/22 – including Sutton Bridge Crop Storage research - will be made available on the AHDB website. This will be supported with a limited number of events which are part of a contractual commitment. All other events for levy payers will stop from the beginning of July.

Communications to levy payers from July onwards will be limited to in-season EAMU notifications, potato storage results and essential updates such as emergency pest and disease communications.

Levy collection, 21/22

2021/22 levy will continue to be collected in the Horticulture and Potatoes sectors during the financial year, and AHDB will be publishing the actual levy rate in due course after it has been approved by Ministers.  

AHDB has to fund operational liabilities associated with the wind-down contracts, people and assets. This means that some level of levy will be needed in 2021 to supplement sector reserves to cover these costs as the change is managed through.

This wind-down programme will enable AHDB to calculate and set levy at the lowest possible rate.    

Transition programme

AHDB is in ongoing discussions with Defra, the Devolved Administrations, industry representatives and levy payers about the possible transition of services to other providers. 

Initial expressions of interest from companies, organisations or industry groups in taking on existing work or packages of stopped work should be registered via email to Rob Clayton. Email: rob.clayton@ahdb.org.uk

For more information, see AHDB’s previous statement of 14 May


The following research and knowledge exchange projects will be funded until the end of the contract.

Click on the links below for more information:


  • Data Collection and Applications to support EAMUs
  • Downy mildew control strategies
  • Vegetable propagation peat reduction grower demonstration trials
  • SCEPTREplus - Research for sustainable plant protection products for use in horticulture
  • Understanding disease development of Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus  (ToBRFV)
  • Development and implementation of season long control strategies for Drosophila suzukii in soft and tree fruit
  • Towards a better understanding of the biology and genetics of Phytophthora rubi and P. fragaria which causes devastating root rot disease in raspberries and strawberries
  • Integrated forecasting for diseases affecting multiple hosts exemplified by vegetable brassicas and oilseed rape
  • Non-chemical growth control of protected pot and bedding plants
  • The role of endophytes in affecting symptom development of European apple canker caused by Neonectria ditissima
  • Improved understanding and control of baterial blotch and green mould in mushroom production (Mushroom Disease)
  • SPECTRA: Whole plant spectral response models: Optimised greenhouse light environments, modelling whole plant reponses to spectral quality
  • Bioinspired vision systems for automated harvesting
  • Soil Biology & Soil Health Partnership
  • Developing diagnostic methodologies for pathogen detection in seed, and determining the importance of seed-borne inoculum in transmission of aerial oomycetes
  • Tomato: An investigation into poor pollination performance by the native bumblebee, Bombus terrestris audax
  • Onions: Investigation into the control of white rot in bulb and salad onion crops
  • Selection and improvement of insect pathogenic fungi for the control of multi-resistant aphids
  • Pest Bulletin
  • Soft Fruit Strategic Farm (WET Centre)
  • Plum Demonstration and Knowledge Exchange Orchard
  • HNS strategic centre
  • SmartHort labour efficiency modules
  • Carbon audits
  • Application and Management of Biopesticides for Efficacy and Reliability (AMBER)
  • Strategic Centre for Herbs & Leafy Salads
  • Reducing peat in transplanted leafy veg crops
  • Monitoring and Managing Insecticide Resistance in UK Pests
  • Asparagus: Sustainable soil management for stand longevity and yield optimisation in asparagus 
  • Using LAMP for non-invasive monitoring systems for Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV)
  • Horticulture Strategic Centres for Field Vegetables (Innovation Hub)
  • Herbs: determining the basis of variation in flavour
  • Improved management of bacterial diseases of horticultural crops
  • Developing nutrient management guidance in Protected Ornamentals, Bulbs and Outdoor Flowers
  • Peas: Surveillance virus diseases in UK pea crops
  • Carrots: Improved management of virus diseases
  • Role of auxin in Phytophthora root rot disease development in soft fruit
  • Diagnostic tests to assess Fusarium disease risk, select rotation crops and monitor microbial communities
  • Developing nutrient management guidance for Hardy Nursery Stock
  • Developing nutrient management guidance in Rhubarb crops
  • Improving integrated pest management in strawberry pests
  • The Pot and Bedding Plant Centre
  • Integrated decision support tools for management of downy mildew in onions
  • Understanding populations of the lettuce downy mildew pathogen Bremia lactucae to inform integrated disease management
  • Development of an integrated strategy for Bean Seed Fly control
  • Membership of the East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club (EMSBC)
  • Growing media usage monitoring
  • Insecticide Resistance Management - new strategies
  • Lettuce: host resistance to fusarium wilt
  • CTP PhD Studentship Scheme
  • The National Cut Flower Centre Trials Programme
  • UK Raspberry Breeding Consortium (UKRBC)
  • GrowSave - an energy efficiency platform
  • Utilisation of single and multiple species cover crops for the suppression of soil borne nematodes of Narcissus
  • Soft Fruit CTP PhD Studentship Scheme funding, although projects won’t be completed until October 2025 
  • All hard copy factsheets, publications and grower events which are not part of a contractual commitment


  • Investigation of the potential for precision soil and crop growth mapping to improve tuber size distribution at harvest.
  • CIPC mechanisms
  • Soil Biology & Soil Health
  • Blight population monitoring for management recommendations
  • Mineral oils for control of aphid-borne virus transmission
  • IPM: response to loss of actives for pest management
  • Integrated potato agronomy and storage
  • Metabolic markers to mechanism of growth suppression - understanding the molecular physiology of sprouting in potato
  • Low temperature storage of potato varieties
  • Integrated alternative sprout suppressants: Fresh
  • Integrated alternative sprout suppressants: Processing
  • Maleic Hydrazide Review
  • CIPC Contamination
  • Potato storage using spearmint oil
  • Growsave
  • Strategic Potato Farms
  • Aphid monitoring
  • Blight Spy
  • PhD Conference for Crops
  • Blight IPM - Fungicide Resistance Management
  • Potato variety database
  • Monitoring and managing insecticide resistance
  • Applications of machine learning to precision potato blackleg prediction
  • Cross sector - Insecticide resistance management
  • Metabolic markers to mechanism of growth suppression: understanding the molecular physiology of sprouting in potato

  • Education partnership with the British Nutrition Foundation
  • Safe Haven Assurance Scheme
  • Yield Enhancement Network
  • AgriLeader work
  • Farmbench data validation and group work
  • Nuffield sponsorship
  • On-farm carbon audits
  • All hard copy factsheets, publications and grower events which are not part of a contractual commitment
  • Consumer marketing campaigns
  • Grow Your Own Potatoes
  • Potato Europe trade show
  • Fruit Logistica trade show
  • Export missions and market access work
  • Area, yield and production estimates
  • Potatoes planting, lifting and crop condition survey
  • Global data provision