‘Spy in the sky’ warning to growers

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Growers of horticultural crops who are not paying a levy to the Horticultural Development Council (HDC) were warned this week that a “spy in the sky” will be used to track them down.

Speaking in Dundee, Dr Jon Knight, head of research at HDC, estimated that some £5 million of levy was not being collected annually and now the HDC were linking up with a commercial company operating on identifying different crops by using satellites.

Knight said that, with the HDC having an annual income of just over £7.5 million, it was significant amount. Currently two thirds of the income is spent on research and development and Knight pointed out to members of the Scottish Society for Crop Research that money has to cover research for over 300 different commercial crops ranging from field scale vegetables through to intensive glasshouse flower production.

He also highlighted the pressure from Europe on reducing the numbers of pesticides being used, forcing the industry to look at novel methods of pest control.

These could, he suggested, include genetic modification.

ANDREW ARBUCKLE