P1901288: SCEPTREplus Year 3: Second Call for protocol proposals

Purpose/Primary Objective

The aim of the project is to deliver applied research on high priority disease, pest and weed problems in fresh produce and ornamental crops in order to support approval of products and devise and develop IPM programmes.


The SCEPTREplus project covers all horticulture crops, both edible and non-edible, across the 6 panels (Field Vegetables, Soft Fruit, Tree Fruit, Protected Edibles and Mushrooms, Hardy Nursery Stock and Protected Ornamentals, Bulbs and Outdoor Flowers).  All panel priority documents (which can be found on the AHDB website) have crop protection as their highest priority and all levy payers are impacted to a certain degree.  Therefore this project should give benefit to all horticultural growers.

In SCEPTREplus we will carry out a number of trials based on priority areas identified by growers and also from the Gap analysis and risk registers (as detailed on the AHDB website). For year 3 (2019) a number of new priority areas have been identified following consultation with growers, grower associations, panels, manufacturers, the SCEPTREplus programme management team and AHDB. The primary objective is to trial new products and control strategies for efficacy and crop safety (where necessary) on a range of crops, pests, weeds and diseases along the same lines as the previous SCEPTRE project.  In addition, we also envisage incorporating other efficacy work within the project where existing actives are tested on different, non-label, crops.  Actives showing sufficient levels of efficacy will then be taken forward within the programme and, where necessary/relevant, separate residue trials will be undertaken to produce the data to support an EAMU.

Future control strategies should be based on IPM, with a key requirement that all potential chemical/microbial treatment options have a clear route to market.  This project also aims to fill some of the current gaps in sustainable crop production using IPM, such as the lack of biopesticides for weed and disease control and the need to adapt predator and parasitoid use from protected crops to outdoor crops.

Where new biopesticides emerge as effective treatments, information will be gathered on the application and management of these products to see whether they are compatible with existing or new conventional products.

Best practice approaches and improving pesticide application may be areas that are also included as well as looking at other innovative technologies for use in Crop Protection.  There is an expectation that any work involving application and management of Biopesticides should link closely with the AMBER project. There is potential to use model crops depending on the situation and crop groupings, as well as looking at programmes and feeding into IPM approaches. As with SCEPTRE, the results should help to give growers improved crop protection measures including helping to provide information for EAMUs or on label approvals. 

All trials will be conducted following ORETO guidelines looking at new or novel active ingredients or products that are used elsewhere in Agriculture that may have potential benefits to Horticultural growers.  Residue trials will normally be conducted as an extension to the SCEPTREplus programme, but there may be occasions where this is included with the programme and these will need to be conducted following GLP guidelines. 

Knowledge Exchange and Knowledge Transfer is a key part of the project to disseminate results and improvements to the growers and wider industry.

Year 3 New Priorities

Following the successful first two years of SCEPTREplus we are planning the work to be conducted in Year 3. Part of the approach by the SCEPTREplus programme is to use the most suitable contractor to carry out work based on expertise, track-history, value for money and quality of proposal received.  However, this will not exclude proposals from new researchers/organisations since one of the aims of SCEPTREplus is to develop capacity in the crop protection research base to support future AHDB needs.

41 work packages have been identified in the first two years of SCEPTREplus and work has been undertaken in Year 1 and/or Year 2 of the project. Funding has been agreed to extend a number of these work packages for a 2nd or 3rd year to confirm results and/or answer additional questions including expanding into other crops where relevant.

For Year 3 (2019) additional crop / targets have been identified across the six sectors as priorities for inclusion in Year 3 or 4 of the SCEPTREplus project. An earlier call was released specifically targeting smoulder and white mould in Narcissus due to the early season nature of the trial.

This latest call is for thirteen priorities and details of the target / crop are detailed below.

  • Organisations are invited to put forward proposals on areas of work to start in 2019 or 2020.

  • We require separate proposals for each topic.

  • Applicants can apply for single or multiple topic areas.

  • Reviewing existing work conducted by AHDB and other organisations is required when submitting proposals

We look forward to receiving proposals for the targets detailed below by noon on 19 February 2019 and decisions on which contractors are appointed to conduct the work will be made by 1 March 2019.

Contractors should liaise with relevant AHDB personnel to discuss potential treatment options.

Potential contractors should in particular show that they have considered trial design, location of sites and ability to ensure sufficient pest, disease or weed pressure are present to gain meaningful results from the work package.

Reviewing existing work conducted by AHDB and other organisations is required when submitting proposals.

Where relevant contractors should consider if a review piece is required before planning any experimental work.  This should be documented and costed appropriately in the application.


Rust in Leeks

Rust is an important diseases of leeks and crop losses can occur even with current fungicide options. Loss of products would have a major economic impact for leek producers. This work package should explore potential options for control and experimental work should be located at a suitable site to ensure disease development. There maybe relevance to link this work package with work package two investigating rust in ornamentals.

Rust in ornamental species

Rust in ornamental species including fuchsia (tender and hardy species) was identified as a target by the HNS and protected ornamental panel. Experimental work should be planned to ensure sufficient level of diseases is present. Trial location should be relevant to area of production. Contractors should liaise with relevant AHDB personnel to discuss potential treatment options. This is particularly important for this work as products should be suitable for use in the production system.

Fusarium basal rot in Narcissus

Fusarium basal rot in narcissus is a priority for Narcissus growers particularly where HWT dips are used. Whilst ClO2 work is showing some promise. Experiments to look at other control options would be valuable to test in SCEPTREplus. Trials could be research site based if required ensuring sufficient levels of disease present.  Close liaison with AHDB staff when considering product selection will be required due to the nature of the production system. Consideration of previous work including that conducted in BOF 74 will be required.

Pythium and rhizoctonia root rots in soil grown baby leaf crops

Pythium and rhizoctonia root rots in soil grown baby leaf crops was identified as a high priority by the Protected British Leafy Salads Association. This work package should consider testing actives that are effective for outdoor crops and could potentially be used under protection. As well as investigating conventionals, testing of biological plant protection products in soil pre-planting or as soil drenches should be included. Experimental work could be conducted in a commercial setting or research based site, ensuring that a site is selected which is high risk for the pathogens.

Powdery mildew in ornamentals and protected edibles

Powdery mildew control is a target that has been identified by hardy ornamental growers particularly in container grown production as well as in the protected edible sector in cucumber production. This work package should investigate a number of control of options and use the model crop approach.


Blueberry gall midge

Blueberry gall midge is a new priority target identified by growers and the Soft Fruit panel.  Suitable pest infestation levels and experimental methods should be considered to ensure relevant results are obtained.  It may also be sensible to review potential control measures by conducting a review piece for experimental work as well as looking at control of other gall midges. Consideration to protected crops will also be required in this work package.

Stem nematodes

Stem nematodes was identified for the protected ornamentals as a priority following discussion and risk register analysis. This may include both a review of potential control measures followed by experimental work, if relevant, which should be submitted as separately costed work packages.

Silver leaf whitefly

Silver leaf whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) has been identified as a priority by the protected edible panel as a priority in tomato production.  This may include both a review of potential control measures followed by experimental work, if relevant, which should be submitted as separately costed work packages.

Glasshouse Mealybug

Glasshouse mealybug (Pseudococcus viburni) has been identified as an issue in protected edible production by the protected edible panel. This work should consider organic options. This may include both a review of potential control measures followed by experimental work, if relevant, which should be submitted as seperately costed work packages.


Broad-leaved weed control in legumes

Weed control in legumes has been identified as a high priority for work in SCEPTREplus by the legume panel. Products targeting broad-leaved weed control are particularly sought.

Weed control in Asparagus

Asparagus growers have identified weed control as a high priority area of work required. Perennial weed control can be particularly challenging in asparagus production. Control of most weeds in the gap analysis is seen as a high or medium priority. Consideration of crop destruction will be required

Weed control in new tree fruit plantations

Control of weeds in new tree fruit plantations has been identified as a priority by the Tree Fruit panel. Ongoing weed control work in other crops should be used to help identify potential products. As with the weed control in asparagus consideration of crop destruction will be required.

Weed control in ornamentals

Whilst most weed control work is covered by the HNS 198 project a specific piece of work for SCEPTREplus has been requested following the HNS R&D update event in December 2018.  This is to investigate the impact of different media blends on the performance/persistence/leachability of herbicides in container grown crops.


Successful contractors will need to deliver:

Approved trial protocols including a KE strategy prior to starting experimental work;

Accredited trials, suitably managed to ensure success or a comprehensive review taking account of the full crop production system;

Trials that fully take account of the commercial context within which successful treatments will be expected to work;

Final trial report within 8 weeks of completing experimental work;

They will also be expected to work collaboratively with the SCEPTREplus management group and wider consortium to maximise synergy between the separate work packages;

All proposals submitted should have detail on the financial costs associated with the work. Knowledge Exchange plan should also a trial open day, ideally linked with a relevant AHDB or grower association meeting/event, presentation of results to growers at a suitable meeting and a timely trial progress blog for the SCEPTREplus web site.

The trial plans included in proposals should have enough detail to ensure that the strategies being considered are clear.

Guidelines on Knowledge Exchange in SCEPTREplus are available on request.

Project duration

It is envisaged that a decision on the successful project will be communicated by 1 March 2019 and work should progress to fit with commercial production timings.  Reporting of individual trial results is expected before the end of Year 3 and in conjunction with the SCEPTREplus programme management team.


Value for money to levy payers is a selection criteria and therefore we expect contractors to cost work with this in mind as well as considering technical content.  Single contractor and joint proposals are acceptable. If deemed productive, applicants may be requested to form a consortium and work together. 

Completion and submission of the application form

Applicants should complete an AHDB Research and KE Application Form – Full Proposal Small, referring to the guidance notes to aid completion. 

Applications are made on the basis of the AHDB Research Funding Agreement and any organisation receiving funding shall comply with the terms and conditions specified in the RFA. AHDB will not be held responsible for any expenses or losses incurred by applicants in the preparation of an application(s).

Completed application forms should be submitted to research@ahdb.org.uk no later than 12:00 noon on the 19 February 2019.

Proposed timings for application and project delivery

Full Proposal deadline

12:00 on 19 February 2019

There is no Concept or Expressions of Interest phase.

Make an electronic submission in line with the instructions below.

Receipt will be the time of receiving email.

Applications reviewed

Submissions will be evaluated internally by AHDB and with Industry Representatives By 1 March 2019 due to the nature of the disease and application window

Applicants informed of outcome

By 1 March 2019

Project commences

By 1 March 2019

Project completion

By 30 November 2019 (or later depending on start date)

If you have specific questions relating to this call, please email research@ahdb.org.uk .

All Questions & Answers will be published. As part of the open tender process, AHDB cannot discuss specific programme details prior to proposal submission.

Evaluation of submissions

A number of criteria will used to judge the quality of the submissions (value in brackets indicates weight in assessment process)

Project Title:



SECTION 2: THE BUSINESS CASE (1x weighting, total 10 points)

Evidence for the project demand including current cost of the problem to industry. Justification for levy funding. Quantification of proposed economic benefits and a realistic cost:benefit proposal. Details for supporting industry sustainability. Environmental benefits appropriately identified and any negative impacts detailed. Details of how the project will solve a supply chain problem and support good decision making. Relevance to AHDB priorities.



Section Score:

Section Total:

SECTION 3: PROJECT OUTCOMES (1x weighting, total 10 points)
Beneficiaries appropriately identified. Approach to deliver industry KE and links to existing AHDB KE activities. Appropriateness and clarity of industry engagement. Timeframe qualified to deliver impact. Clarification over additional activities/resource required to deliver impact. Skills & training opportunities identified. Clear IP exploitation plan where relevant.



Section Score:

Section Total:

SECTION 4: TECHNICAL APPROACH AND WORK PLAN (5x weighting, total 50 points)

Evaluation of current knowledge (appropriate references used) and awareness of other work. Clarity of aims, objectives, work packages and milestone schedule. Originality & innovation. Effective collaboration with commercial companies. Is the approach statistically robust? Feasibility and risk management.



Section Score:

Section Total:



Knowledge and expertise. Quality of past contributions to, and impact on, the topic. Potential to bring added value through current and/or past contributions. Complementarities of expertise of the team.



Section Total:


SECTION 6: PROJECT COSTS (total 15 points)

Are costs reasonable and necessary? Will the total budget be adequate to carry out the proposed activities? For a cross-Sector proposal, is the shared budget appropriate & clearly defined? Added value of co-funding?



Section Total:

Total Points            out of 100

Recommend for Funding           Yes / No

Weightings are set to reflect the importance of specific criteria, any proposal failing to achieve a specified threshold may be rejected. They have been set to ensure appropriate standards are met.

 AHDB Scoring Guidelines 



Exceptional quality; cutting-edge; highly likely to produce benefits/impact of great importance to the industry; highly innovative; impactful KE activities proposed; applicant is widely recognized in the field with an outstanding record of accomplishment; consortium is strong across all technical areas needed to accomplish the proposed outcomes. Strongly recommend support


Very good          


High quality; potential to make an important contribution; innovative; likely to produce significant benefits/ impact for the industry; impactful KE activities proposed; applicant has a good reputation in the field; consortium appears to have more than adequate expertise across all technical areas required to deliver the proposed outcomes. Strongly recommend support



Interesting; innovative; likely to produce good benefits/impact; good grasp of appropriate KE activities; applicant has a solid reputation in the field; consortium appears to have adequate expertise across all technical areas required to deliver the proposed outcomes. Should be supported



Interesting but little originality; likelihood of making significant impact is small; may require significant additional investment to deliver benefits; applicant/team lacks experience, has not established leadership in the field or demonstrated the potential to make impactful contributions. Support may be considered if strong in other areas



Poor quality; not well planned; lacking expertise; not feasible; unlikely to make an important contribution to fundamental or applied knowledge; unlikely to produce benefits/impact; lacking convincing evidence that the proposing team has sufficient and appropriate expertise to accomplish all of the tasks as outlined in the proposal. Should not be supported


Very poor           

Very poor quality; duplicative of other work; fails to address the issues; no evidence for demand; cannot be judged against the criterion due to missing or incomplete information. Should not be supported