Summary: The Bedding and Pot Plant Centre (BPPC) was established in 2014 and is located at Baginton Nurseries, Baginton, Warwickshire. A series of trials were developed and delivered in conjunction with a grower-led management group between 2014 and 2016, to provide practical solutions to problems encountered on standard bedding and pot plant nurseries. The Centre has gathered momentum over the last two years, with a number of knowledge transfer events helping to bring growers, breeders and researchers together, and is developing into a research centre and knowledge hub for the UK horticulture bedding and pot plant sector. This proposal has been developed to continue the work of the BPPC for a further two years.
The work programme covers several areas of work on PGRs, incorporating trials of adjuvants and biostimulants for application with Stabilon 750 to reduce phytotoxicity (WP1), evaluation of products, some new to the UK, for drenches and spray application (WP2) and an investigation of the effect of application water pH on PGR efficacy (WP6). New micropropagated cultivars of white Hellebores are being produced as pot plants, and there is a need to evaluate their performance in shelf-life, including flower colour longevity (WP3). It is also proposed to continue work carried out in 2016 to evaluate products to increase the success rate and reduce rooting time in unrooted cuttings (WP4). Growers have reported difficulties in stimulated plug plants into full growth following periods when they have been held back due to lack of demand, and this will be investigated to develop solutions in two trials (WP5a & b). An indicative trial has been included to investigate the role of silicon in improving bedding and pot plant quality (WP7). The knowledge transfer programme (WP8) will include trial Open Days which will provide members of the UK horticulture industry with the opportunity to view the trials as they are underway and allow preliminary results to be disseminated quickly. Industry will also be kept up to date through a regular blog, ADHB grower articles and briefing notes. A study tour relevant to the industry will be organised for the second year of the project.
Benefits to Industry:
Work Package 1: The evaluation of a range of adjuvants to identify suitable products and rates to minimise phytotoxicity when used with Stabilan 750 (chlormequat) will equip growers with the necessary information and confidence to continue to use this active ingredient.
Work Package 2: The evaluation of plant growth regulators (PGRs) either approved in the UK or in other European Countries for use on bedding plants (spray and drench application), followed by appropriate AHDB EAMU applications will expand the range of active ingredients in the growers’ armoury for growth. The inclusion of drench treatments in the trial will provide growers with alternative products following the loss of approval for drench application of Bonzi.
Work Package3: The investigation into flower colour longevity in Hellebores during shelf life will chart plant performance during shelf life and identify any quality issues that may develop in these high value products. The output will inform grower decisions when developing new product lines and cultivar choice, whilst also demonstrating the opportunity that the new micro-propagated Hellebore cultivars present as a new product for the pre-Christmas market.
Work Package 4: The continuation of the work to improve the success rate and decrease rooting time in unrooted cuttings will provide growers with new techniques to increase profitability and reduce waste when propagating bedding plants in-house.
Work Package 5a & b: The investigation into holding plugs through appropriate water and nutrient management in seed and cutting raised bedding plants will provide growers with techniques to improve the quality of plants that are held back for extended periods of time, reduce waste and increase profitability.
Work Package 6: The information gained from the evaluation of the effect of water pH on the efficacy of plant growth regulators (PGRs) will provide growers with information that will help them to calculate if they are applying PGRs at the correct dose rate on their nursery to achieve the optimum effect on plants with the minimum amount of product to produce high quality plants. This work will improve nursery profitability and efficiency.
Work Package 7. To investigate the role of silicon in improving bedding and pot plant quality in shelf life. If taken forward, this work has the potential to improve plant quality, reduce waste and increase profitability.
Work Package 8. The knowledge transfer programme will ensure that growers and the wider industry will have the opportunity to view the trials in progress and have access to preliminary (trial open days) and final results (project reports, AHDB articles), and be provided with regular updates on the trials being carried out (blog, AHDB grower articles, briefing notes). A study tour focused on a specific subject area as agreed with the Management group will provide growers with the opportunity to view the work of other research establishments and nurseries (UK or abroad).