GrowSave, a collaboration between AHDB and NFU Energy, has been around for thirteen years. We look back at the impact we’ve had on the horticulture industry over the last five.
Born originally out of a desire to help horticultural businesses save energy and reduce their environmental impact, GrowSave has become a valuable resource for the UK sector. The volatility of energy prices over the last half decade, as demonstrated by gas prices fluctuating between less than £0.30/therm and over £0.70/therm, coupled with the increased demand for year-round produce, has been a significant driver in the desire of businesses to carefully manage their energy consumption. To help the industry keep abreast of the latest developments in energy saving techniques, as well as to advise on alternative (and often ‘greener’) sources of energy, GrowSave has provided numerous workshops, publications and articles.
The availability of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme since 2011 has been key to helping businesses reduce their carbon footprint by adopting renewable technologies. While significant investment is often required to take advantage of the scheme, the advice and expertise provided by GrowSave have allowed many to realise the long-term financial benefits of government incentives.
Also, by helping businesses recognise areas of potential energy efficiency improvements, whether through the use of thermal screens in glasshouses or by adopting more effective climate control strategies, for example, GrowSave has significantly reduced the amount paid out by the industry in the form of the Climate Change Levy.
GrowSave has spent a significant amount of time investigating best practices in other European countries, particularly Belgium and the Netherlands. The findings have been fed back to UK growers through seminars, study tours and a pilot study group programme, which trialled Next Generation Growing (NGG) techniques. Through this close collaboration with growers, those involved were able to understand the potential benefits of NGG and were given the confidence to implement techniques which may previously have left them feeling uncomfortable.
Another important factor in increasing the impact of the GrowSave programme has been its expansion into other sectors. Originally focused on Protected Edibles and Protected Ornamentals, GrowSave has recently also incorporated Soft Fruit. Investigations have already been carried out into how the UK industry compares to that of some of its European neighbours, and work continues in helping growers implement proven strategies for more profitable crop production.
Going forward GrowSave will continue to provide effective energy saving advice to the industry, while also helping businesses keep abreast of the latest technological and strategical developments. We will continue to deliver the programme over the next five years.