Derek Hanna from Hanna's Nurseries assessing pot Hydrangea plants for market acceptability.
Derek Hanna from Hanna's Nurseries assessing pot Hydrangea plants for market acceptability.

Substituting imports in the ornamental plant market - a new pot plant Hydrangea crop: Growing Hydrangea as a pot plant is a relatively new market under investigation at the Horticultural Centre, Greenmount Campus. Working with growers, imported plant products are being evaluated for local production.

Growing more crops locally helps nursery businesses gain market share and supports employment. Import substitution reduces transport costs, as a typical garden plant can cost up to one euro to transport from Holland.

Derek Hanna from Hanna’s nurseries in County Antrim supplies wholesalers and is investigating new crops including Hydrangea. Derek said: “The demonstration at Greenmount Campus gave me the information I need to make decisions on the cropping plans for my nursery.”

David Kerr, CAFRE’s Ornamental Sector Development Adviser from Greenmount Campus reports: “We sourced young cold stored plants from Germany and have looked at systems of production, including using additional lighting and growth control methods.”

The Hydrangea crop was grown using heat from the biomass boiler burning woodchip. Ten varieties are being assessed to allow selection of the best performing colours. The cropping period at this time of year is 13 weeks.

Bulrush Horticulture has developed dedicated growing media to enhance the growth and flowering of Hydrangea and this technology is also part of the project.

The product is sold in a sleeve and initial feedback on the quality of the pot product has been very encouraging.

If you wish to view this crop, please contact David Kerr on 028 3752 9059 or mobile 07899 864 343.

Safe use of pesticides training for growers

Anyone who uses pesticides (approved for use in agriculture, horticulture and forestry) in their job is legally required to have a City and Guilds / NPTC Certificate of Competence in the Safe Use of Pesticides for Farmers and Growers. A current exemption in United Kingdom law is commonly known as ‘grandfather rights’. This allows anyone born on, or before, 31 December 1964 to use Plant Protection Products (PPP’s) authorised for professional use on their own or their employer’s land, without a certificate of competence although they should still be suitably trained and competent for the job.

After 26 November 2015 anyone who relied on ‘grandfather rights’ will have to achieve a Certificate of Competence through a training and assessment programme. There are various strands to the pesticides training delivered by CAFRE at Greenmount and Loughry Campuses:

If you were born after 31 December 1964 select from the following programme:

PA1 - Foundation module (Safe Use of Pesticides). Everyone must do this. You then can choose from the following module(s) appropriate to your business on completion of PA1.

PA2a –Ground crop sprayer (tractor mounted).

PA3a – Broadcast orchard sprayer with air assistance (mounted or trailed).

PA6a – Handheld applicator (knapsack sprayer).

If you were born born on, or before 31 December 1964 you can select from the courses listed above or from the following programme:

Grandfather Rights, Unit 051 and Unit 052 (knapsack sprayer).

Grandfather Rights, Unit 051 and Unit 053 (boom sprayer).

Grandfather Rights Unit 051, which is mandatory, involves one day of classroom based training and covers the same areas as PA1. Grandfather Rights Unit 052, which is optional, also involves one day’s training and covers the same areas as PA6a. Grandfather Rights Unit 053 (optional) covers the same areas as PA2a.

For more information on Safe Use of Pesticides courses for farmers and growers please contact CAFRE Short Course Administration on 028 9442 6880 or by e-mail: industry.trainingadmin@dardni.gov.uk. You can also apply online at www.cafre.ac.uk/safe-use-pesticides/

It is important to remember that professional pesticide products must not be purchased or used after 26 November 2015 unless the operator applying the product is certificated.