More Crop Per Drop
Using the latest remote sensing technologies, we aim to improve the sustainability of water use in the potted and cut herb production sector. Alongside reducing the water footprint of herb production, we hope to improve quality of the crop in terms of taste and shelf-life.
The demand for culinary herbs is on the rise across Europe as people explore more exotic recipes and look to replace unhealthy additives and flavourings in food. Vitacress Ltd., based in West Sussex, UK produces around 18 million pots of fresh herbs each year, but with increasing pressure on our already stretched water resources, ways to improve the sustainability of water use in agriculture and horticulture must be found.
Working with Vitacress and focusing on potted and cut herbs, including parsley, basil and coriander, we aim to reduce the amount of irrigation water used during crop production. In doing so, we hope not only to maintain crop quality, but actually to improve the flavour and shelf-life of these herbs.
This project will utilise the latest technologies in thermal and remote imaging to determine water deficit stress in a range of herb crops, each of which pose a unique set of challenges. Although this concept has previously been demonstrated in other systems, the use of deficit irrigation to improve crop quality is a new approach in culinary herb production. We hope that this research will increase our knowledge of how plants use water and respond to drought on a fundamental level, while also being directly translatable to provide on-farm water savings and the production of an improved crop for the consumer.