Article

Science in the field – Elveden shows on-farm innovation

Published: 26 September, 2018

Early career farmers and scientists are being given the opportunity to visit one of the most advanced on farm post-harvest storage facilities in Europe.

Elveden Farms is giving members of the Young Innovators Forum (YIF) an opportunity to see its advanced Quality Control Lab and brand-new potato store – built to Elveden’s own specifications and housing up to 5000 tonnes of potatoes.

Emma Kelcher, Elveden and YIF

Emma Kelcher, Elveden Technical Manager

Elveden Technical Manager, Emma Kelcher, is passionate about using research to improve the quality of produce from field to packhouse and beyond.

She says: “I have always enjoyed the outdoors and research, I worked at the Cambridge University Farm on potato trials, and my job at Elveden combines both these elements. The lab here is really leading edge, and being involved in the build was really important”

Setting up Young Innovators Forum

“This is one of the reasons why I was so keen to work with Becky Dodds of Agri-Tech East to set up the Young Innovators Forum. Farming is changing and developments in technology mean that the lead times are much shorter, you can get the benefits of research out into the field in a much shorter time.

“Getting farmers and scientists talking together to really understand what is going on in the field is vital and through YIF we are creating an informal opportunity to do this.”

High-tech spuds

The potato store at Elveden opened this year and uses environmental control of airflow and temperature, instead of chemicals, to maintain the quality of the produce. A second phase is planned that will take on-farm storage to 10,000 tonnes.

Emma’s role is looking after the whole quality chain from soil health, seed health to plant health through to delivery of quality British produce, across onions, potatoes, carrots and parsnips. This includes food safety management such as: HACCP field management, internal auditing in red tractor assurance, LEAF, Marks and Spencer Field to Fork.

The quality management extends further than the produce. The estate is also committed to wildlife conservation so all farming operations are carried out with this in mind.

On-farm R&D

Elveden is one of the AHDB SPot Farms so in addition to its own research it is involved in trials that aim to put the findings of potato research into practice.

The demonstration plots show techniques that are appropriate to the region and market sector in a commercial scale growing environment. A results day is planned for 10 January 2019.

More information 

Here Emma talk about how a bursary to REAP helped her get to know more about the industry.

To join the YIF visit on 10th October see more details here. 

Defra is consulting with farmers about on-farm R&D and Agri-Tech East is hosting a breakfast to discuss this ahead of REAP.

About the Young Innovator Forum 

Agri-Tech East’s Young Innovators’ Forum is an initiative, kindly sponsored by The Morley Agricultural Foundation. It is aimed at those from the research and grower communities who are just starting out in the industry and are the promising young leaders of the future.