Horticulture sector plan

The outlook for horticulture businesses in Britain remains challenging over the next five years, with pressure on margins and resources and an increasingly competitive environment. There are common challenges faced by growers which need to be tackled regardless of their crop, such as a shortage of skilled labour.

Across all of these challenges, we will ensure issues are identified, the necessary research is commissioned and solutions delivered effectively, to meet the very specific needs of individual crops.

* Horticulture in Great Britain

Since 2014, we have invested £30M in research. We will continue to be Britain’s biggest funder of applied research, enabling all horticulture levy payers to benefit from the latest knowledge and best practice.

The challenges are:

  • With the prospect of fewer plant protection products, how can we protect crops against existing and emerging pest, disease and weed threats?
  • How can growers manage their business with increasing staff costs and a shortage of skilled labour?
  • How can the sector best manage resources to minimise environmental impacts and maximise benefits?

Crop protection

  • Working with the industry, agrochemical manufacturers, regulators, and national and international grower groups, we will develop and expand our programme of plant protection product approvals. This will focus on Extension of Authorisation for Minor Use (EAMUs) and emergency approvals to ensure British growers continue to have access to essential crop protection products
  • We will continue to invest in plant protection product evaluation and support the pipeline of new valuable products for growers
  • We will invest in Integrated Pest Management (IPM), working to coordinate industry data and insight to develop early warning systems and improve control strategies for diseases, weeds and pests. We will also develop tracking and monitoring programmes to help growers anticipate and manage threats such as Spotted Wing Drosophila and Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus in a way that saves both time and money

Labour shortages

  • We will help growers get the best out of the workforce they have through expanding and developing our pioneering SmartHort programme, concentrating on lean management principles to help businesses identify where time and effort is going to waste and where staff costs, time and efficiencies could be improved
  • By bringing together growers, scientists and technologists, we will increase the uptake of robotics and automation in the horticulture sector. This will help ensure innovation is practical and cost-effective, enabling businesses to make the best use of available labour


  • We will support the industry’s move to Net Zero through investment in the GrowSave knowledge exchange programme, focused on solutions to understand changing legislation and incentives, and deploy environmental control strategies
  • Through funding programmes such as GREATsoils, the AHDB Nutrient Management Guide (RB209) and the Water Efficient Technologies Centre, growers can both see and access best practice in resource-use efficiency, soil management and water use. This will help businesses both meet new environmental policy requirements and respond to the challenges of a changing climate

Industry insight

  • Where there is demand from a sector, we will provide data, insight and services to maximise British horticulture’s market potential

Modern levy system

As part of AHDB’s Change Programme, we have been addressing the issues of delivering programmes that are wanted by levy payers, ensuring they deliver value together with a modern levy system.

Specifically, we are proposing to set levy rates in a different way and have also addressed the specific systems for Horticulture as highlighted in the response to the Request for Views exercise carried out by Defra.

Download the Horticulture: Modern Levy System proposal Give us your feedback on the Horticulture levy proposal

The closing date for feedback is January 31, 2021

Download a copy of the full strategy proposal

Change Programme and Strategy 2021-2026 (PDF)

Have your say...

Feed back on the AHDB strategy using our online form

The closing date for feedback is January 31, 2021

To feed back via email, please send your response to strategy2021@ahdb.org.uk

Alternatively, you can send us your feedback by mail at: AHDB Strategy Feedback, AHDB, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2TL

Town Hall meetings

You are welcome to join our series of sector-focused town hall meetings on our strategy, running from December to January 2021.

This is your opportunity to ask questions on the strategy and feed back on your sector’s plan.

  • 14 December to 28 January – Horticulture 
  • 7 January 2021 – Dairy, Pork, Potatoes 
  • 13 January 2021 – Beef & Lamb 
  • 15 January 2021 – Cereals & Oilseeds