Horticulture Studentships

Funding tomorrow’s industry, today

We invest in and currently support 42 PhD studentships to ensure that young talented researchers are focusing their work in science relevant to the Horticulture industry.

The Collaborative Training Partnership for Fruit Crop Research (CTP-FCR) began in 2017 and supports 31 PhD studentships for UK horticulture.

Led by Berry Gardens Growers Ltd. it is jointly funded by AHDB, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and a consortium of businesses with interests in soft, stone and pome fruit.

Together with NIAB EMR, the programme also brings on-board six universities with the expertise and capabilities to tackle strategically important research and development areas including crop protection, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), genetics and plant physiology.

Christina Conroy

With both a summer and winter form of Spotted-Wing Drosophila (SWD), and control methods limited to good hygiene and spray products, Christina has been developing a new year-round push-pull control strategy. Her research is the first to find behavioural differences between the summer and winter morphs and is identifying repellents that are effective within the crop.

“In the short term, my research will help growers be aware of the differences in summer and winter morph behaviour, and plan accordingly. In the long term, this could aid in the creation of a push-pull control strategy. The repellent identified in this research will ‘push’ SWD from the crop and commercially available attractants ‘pull’ it into a trap.”

Raymond Kirk

Raymond’s technology of the future research aims to bring human intuition and apply it to camera systems. This will allow growers to detect, classify maturity and weigh non-destructively at a large scale, while also tracking individual berries through the season with the use of GPS and producing counts for yield forecasting as harvest approaches.

“Ultimately, my research will contribute to significantly reduced labour costs, with the advent of harvesters. Labour efficiency will also be bolstered with smarter deployment in field, a result of large-scale analysis of current crop performance. Finally, yield estimates will be more accurate and reflective of inner-row variances and crop profiles.”


Scott Raffle

Knowledge Exchange Manager - Horticulture (Fruit)