Herefordshire horticulture firm to lead on labour productivity

A Herefordshire based business will lead the way in demonstrating labour saving techniques to help the horticulture industry offset the shortage of seasonal workers.

Fruit growers, Haygrove based near Ledbury, has been announced as an AHDB ‘Strategic SmartHort Centre’ and will host a series of workshops this year for other local horticultural businesses.

Consultancy, Fedden USP, will run training to drive business improvement, while sharing insight on practical management and methods of implementing ‘Lean’ practices in horticulture.

AHDB claims businesses attending the events should expect to see labour and productivity improvements of between 25% and 40%.

Angus Davison, chairman of Haygrove Ltd., said: “Berry growing is about labour, yield and price. Yield is good. Price is bad. Labour must be the focus. We, therefore, happily support this initiative by AHDB. We are keen to listen, share and learn.”

Haygrove will help demonstrate how labour efficiency tools and techniques can be used on a daily basis in any horticultural business, regardless of the crops grown or whether the business employs two or 200 people.

Grace Emeny, senior knowledge exchange manager at AHDB, said: “Haygrove will be a brilliant ambassador for our SmartHort programme.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the impact of their projects that develop throughout their year as a Strategic SmartHort Centre on production efficiency and labour management.

“Crucially, they will be sharing that insight with other local growers and we’re grateful for the honesty and openness they will be bringing to these events.”

AHDB Horticulture chairman Hayley Campbell-Gibbons added: “Labour can account for up to 70% of production costs for some horticulture businesses.

In recent years, some areas have seen a 30% shortfall in seasonal workers, putting huge strains on businesses and leading to increased wage costs to attract and retain the best workers.

“The Strategic SmartHort Centres are one of the ways we’re putting practical advice and information out to growers to help them deal with this significant challenge and we hope many businesses in the area make the most of this opportunity.”

Businesses attending the workshops can expect a hands-on, practical learning experience and will cover:

  • Process mapping and waste identification;
  • Practical problem solving using a technique called Plan, Do, Check, Act;
  • How to encourage continuous improvement across the whole organisation;
  • Visual management boards and metrics to check improvements have worked.

The first workshop will take place on September 4 and 5 at Haygrove, Ledbury. To find out more and to book your place visit the AHDB events page.