Research aims to reduce water footprint and increase shelf life of potted and cut herb production

Aug 05, 2014

New research from the University of Southampton is aiming to reduce the water footprint and increase shelf life of potted and cut herb production in the UK.

Focusing on a range of potted and cut herbs, including flat-leaved parsley, basil and coriander, the aim is to reduce the use of during , while improving the flavour and quality of the herbs. It has already been shown in other growing systems that substantial water savings can be made without detrimental impacts on crop quality.

The project is led by Professor Gail Taylor from the University of Southampton and builds on from a BBSRC IPA (Industrial Partnering Award) with Vitacress Ltd.

The project was awarded from the Annual Sainsbury's Supermarket Agricultural R&D Grant - where growers, suppliers and researchers are asked to compete for a pot of £1 million provided by Sainsbury's.

More than 18 million pots of herbs are produced in the UK each year and much of this production is undertaken by Vitacress under glass in Sussex. Cut herbs are grown widely in the UK summer and overseas in winter.

Professor Taylor says: "It's hard to imagine a world without fresh herbs and yet this product has only been on our supermarket shelves for the past ten years or so and much remains to be learned to optimise the use of water in cultivation. We will use the latest technologies in thermal and remote imaging to assess precisely when irrigation should be applied, targeting water to best effect and helping Sainsbury's to achieve their targets for the 20 x 20 Sustainability Plan, which includes a robust water stewardship commitment from suppliers and also a target to double the amount of British food sold.

"This research, we hope, will contribute to both of these aspirations, while at the same time increasing our fundamental knowledge on the way in which plants use ."

The research team includes Professor Gail Taylor, Mark Chapman, Hazel Smith and Libby Rowland from the University of Southampton, in partnership with Steve Rothwell from Vitacress Salads Ltd and Calum Kelly and Rob Honeysett from Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd.

Explore further: Scientists grow longer-lasting salad greens

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rosemary and oregano contain diabetes-fighting compounds

Jul 23, 2014

The popular culinary herbs oregano and rosemary are packed with healthful compounds, and now lab tests show they could work in much the same way as prescription anti-diabetic medication, scientists report. In their new study ...

A new mango drink enriched with antioxidants

Jul 28, 2014

Researchers at the Universiti Teknologi MARA have enhanced the antioxidants present in mango fruit drink by adding the extracts of naturally occuring traditional herbs in Malaysia.

Recommended for you

UN sends team to clean up Bangladesh oil spill

2 hours ago

The United Nations said Thursday it has sent a team of international experts to Bangladesh to help clean up the world's largest mangrove forest, more than a week after it was hit by a huge oil spill.

How will climate change transform agriculture?

2 hours ago

Climate change impacts will require major but very uncertain transformations of global agriculture systems by mid-century, according to new research from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

Report: Radiation leak at nuclear dump was small

2 hours ago

A final report by independent researchers shows the radiation leak from the federal government's underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico was small and localized.

Confucian thought and China's environmental dilemmas

6 hours ago

Conventional wisdom holds that China - the world's most populous country - is an inveterate polluter, that it puts economic goals above conservation in every instance. So China's recent moves toward an apparent ...

Deforestation threatens species richness in streams

7 hours ago

With a population of 1.3 billion, China is under immense pressure to convert suitable areas into arable land in order to ensure a continued food supply for its people. Accordingly, China is among the top ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.