P1903296: AHDB Research Call - SCEPTREplus Year 3: Third call for protocol proposals

P1903296: AHDB Research Call - SCEPTREplus Year 3: Third 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. Earlier calls released targeted a number of these priorities.

This latest call is for downy mildew in outdoor cropping and details of the target / crop are detailed below:  

  • Organisations are invited to put forward proposals on the area of work to start preferably in 2019. Although if this is not possible we will consider proposals starting in 2020.
  • Reviewing existing work conducted by AHDB and other organisations is required when submitting proposals including considering previous work conducted on Downy mildew within the SCEPTREplus programme

We look forward to receiving proposals for the targets detailed below by 2 April 2019 and decisions on which contractors are appointed to conduct the work will be made by 8 April 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 disease 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.

Downy mildew in outdoor cropping

Downy mildew has been identified as a priority across a number of crop sectors.  So far this has been investigated as a model crop approach in protected edibles and also ornamental production.  Therefore the third area is to investigate control of downy mildew in an outdoor cropping environment such as alliums.

Consideration of previous treatments tested should be included and also potential for use of alternative products to conventional chemistry will need to be considered in the trial design.

To allow for the trial to be conducted this year it may be necessary to identify a commercial crop which hasn’t had any sprays applied yet.


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 8 April 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. 

Application Procedure

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 mid-day on the 2 April 2019.

To avoid bias in assessing the other evaluation criteria, the technical merit of applications will be judged before consulting the project costs.

Proposed timings for application and project delivery

Stage of Process


Call published

18 March 2019

Full proposal submission deadline

Mid-day 2 April 2019

There is no Concept or Expressions of Interest phase.

Receipt will be the time of receiving email.

Applicants informed of outcome

8 April 2019

Project commencement

8 April 2019

Project completion

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


If you have a specific question related to this call please email research@ahdb.org.uk. As part of the open tender process AHDB cannot discuss specific project details prior to submission of a proposal. All Questions and Answers are published.

Assessment criteria

The following Assessment Criteria will be used to judge the quality of the submissions (value in brackets indicates weight in assessment process)

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