The cart is empty
Subsribe Now to our Weekly Newsletter

HortiTrends is NOW Horticulture Connected


Today's News

Today's News

Featured News

Featured News
Impact of the Decision To Leave the EU

Impact of the Decision To Leave the EU

It is now clear that the British people have made the choice to leave the European Union. The countr...


Solufeed & Deker Horticultural Supplies Host Irish Fruit Growers Study Tour


Solufeed, the specialist fertiliser manufacturer and their Irish distributor, Deker Horticultural Supplies, recently arranged and sponsored a study tour in Southern England for customers. The group of 14 forward looking growers was drawn from the soft fruit, hardy nursery stock and bedding plant sectors of the Irish horticulture industry.

One of the first ports of call for the whole group was to the multi accredited NRM testing laboratories at Bracknell where Solufeed send fertiliser samples for testing and which currently processes 350,000 other soil, leaf and nutrient samples per year. ‘We usually aim to turn standard soil samples round straight away so that the farmer or grower has his results by email within 24 hours of receipt’ says NRM’s Business Development Manager, Sean Stevenson. ‘though at peak times in spring and autumn when we receive 6,000 samples every day, it can take a little longer.’ This fast turnaround is only possible because of NRM’s investment in the latest automatic analytical equipment, with automatic analysers in some cases costing an eye watering £160,000 each.

Separate visits had been arranged for the growers from each sector. Strawberry growers Michael Buck, Paddy Murphy, John O’Sullivan and David Redmond visited Hall Hunter Partnership’s state of the art 16 acre greenhouses at solufeed_trip

Donaldson’s Nurseries in Runcton, one of the 9 sites in Hall. Hunter Partnership which overall produce 8,000 tonnes of fruit annually.

Donaldsons, until recently an AYR chrysanthemum nursery, was converted to soft fruit production over a year ago and is now an industry benchmark for strawberry production under glass. The Donaldsons site is now set up to grow strawberries hydroponically in coir on hanging gutters.

‘There could be no better place to see the latest techniques for strawberry production under one roof’ said Derek Warren of Deker Horticultural Supplies who distributes Solufeed products in Ireland. ‘Our group was received with the utmost courtesy by general manager David Kay, production manager Laurie Adams and nursery manager Daniel van der Veen. The scale of the HHP operation was quite an eye opener – their output is higher than that of all the Irish strawberry growers combined.’

But it wasn’t just the chance to see all the latest equipment which impressed the group. ‘HHP’s management team has a very clear vision of where they want their organisation to be and are very effective at communicating that to all levels of their operation.’ said Derek. ‘This trip has been very worthwhile and we have some very positive impressions to take back to our own businesses.’

With a total population in Ireland of only 4.5 million approximately, Irish nurseries are often small to medium sized family businesses supplying the domestic market. So a tour of UK nurseries which specifically target volume sales through major retailers was not to be missed by these growers.

‘This tour was a great opportunity to see how big UK growers tackle volume production’ said the Irish growers’ spokesman Matt Lohan. ‘Intelligent capital investment in automation together with top quality management ensure that these nurseries are able to produce consistently high quality despite the huge scale of their operations.’

Study tours can be hit and miss, but with the majority of growers on this trip already asking for invitation to next year’s Solufeed study tour, it seems that this one simply whetted their appetite for more.

Source: Solufeed & Deker Horticultural Supplies