Farming & Horticulture

Projects that improve water efficiency in the commercial farming and horticulture sectors; projects that go beyond irrigation efficiency to, for example, consider water-smart crop selection, water footprinting or local water environmental improvements will be given a higher score 


Winner: Lowaters Nursery – Rainwater Harvesting

Lowaters Nursery – Rainwater Harvesting

Rising costs of water as well as predictions of future availability prompted Lowaters Nursery to become water self-sufficient. Mains water is no longer necessary to irrigate its plants.

This horticultural water storage and efficiency project was achieved through a 7 million litre reservoir, rainwater capture, clean water storage and pumping system. In addition, ‘evaposensor' technology, which enables the exact amount of water to be applied at the right time, was trialled in propagation and later rolled out for saleable plants as well – this technology generally results in water savings of 40-50%.

In addition to these changes, Lowaters Nursery worked with staff to develop a better understanding of plant water requirements. The team is now focused on water and reacts faster to seasonal and immediate weather patterns, ensuring plants get only the water they need.

Extended case study


 

Runner-up: East Malling Research and South East Water – Improving water use efficiency and fruit quality in field grown strawberries

East malling strawberries

Research into reducing water and fertiliser use on growing strawberries across the UK has shown some encouraging results in trials and the research is now being rolled out across further real-life trial sites. The new methodology for irrigating strawberries has shown water savings of around 30% can be achieved. When this has been trialled at some strawberry grower sites, savings of around 20% have been seen. The strawberries also appear to have a better quality, taste and a slightly longer shelf life than those grown using standard techniques.

The new technique uses technology to determine when the plants need watering and for how long, rather than the grower ‘feeling’ the soil to judge for themselves if it is wet enough. This can save a lot of precious water and also fertiliser, which in turn saves the grower a lot of money.

Extended case study


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