Research & Development Strategy
Supporting the UK Cucumber Industry
One of the changing roles of the CGA is to steer the Cucumber Industry towards technological advancement combined with environmental sustainability. The two targets are inextricably linked so we will deal with them together in a series of realistic short term, medium term and long term goals.
In the past, an important role of the CGA was to guide research for the Cucumber Industry, through bodies like HDC and then AHDB. Now there is no government or grower funding for horticulture research since the 2022 Levy vote.
Future developments in technology and environmental sustainability is now down to Industry to support our glasshouse salads sector.
Technological advancement & environmental sustainability
Where are we now?
Over the last 10 years, cucumber growers have done the following:
- Install energy saving thermal screens
- Partly replaced some gas boilers with biomass boilers
- Introduced the concept and methods of “Next Generation Growing”, with lower energy inputs.
- Reduced the thickness of the polythene in shrink wrapped cucumbers
- Grown crops in organic substrates and in rockwool with recycling options available.
- Begin to build new glasshouses with waste heat availability.
- Installed Solar Panels on Packhouse / Office roof tops
- Grown some crops under lights with CHP
Technological advancement will progress steadily over the coming years but we need to further introduce more environmental improvement methods as soon as practicably possible. There is a worldwide momentum to reduce global warming and it is the aim of the glasshouse salads sector to be carbon neutral too.
Short term goals - 2 to 5 years
- Introduce a viable and safe recirculation system for water and fertiliser.
- Expand the use of bio pesticides and introduce new types of biological predators
- Improve disease detection with novel spore counting technology
- Install more solar panels on Packhouse roof tops
- Replace older dirty screen materials with new improved screen cloths.
- Expand the production of high wire crops in suitable glasshouses
Medium term goals - 5 to 10 years
- Expand the use of recirculation systems.
- More glasshouse new builds with waste heat possibilities.
- Further expand the installation of solar panels on roof tops.
- Biodegradable polythene and coatings for cucumbers and packaging.
- Introduce robots to the process of cutting cucumber fruit in high wire crops
Long term goals - 10 years +
- Carbon neutral or near carbon neutral growing.
- Autonomous growing.
- Pesticide free or virtually pesticide free growing
- All growing and packing materials to be reused, recycled or biodegradable
- High wire crops with LED interlighting and cucumber fruit cutting robots, where possible.
Find an archive of research and resources funded via the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) cucumber grower levy here: