Eyre Trailers awarded £300,000 for blueberry picking scheme

Eyre Trailers in Coningsby have been awarded nearly £300,000 for their blueberry picking project.Eyre Trailers in Coningsby have been awarded nearly £300,000 for their blueberry picking project.
Eyre Trailers in Coningsby have been awarded nearly £300,000 for their blueberry picking project.
​Two high-tech agricultural businesses – including a Coningsby business – have been offered funding from a new national £7.5million pot to support innovation and growth.

Eyre Trailers’s ​automated blueberry harvesting project, in partnership with the University of Lincoln, has been awarded a £299,693 share of £1.84m from the new Launchpads programme managed by Innovate UK, which offers small and medium enterprises (SMEs) grants for R&D and innovation projects that focus on agrifood.

The objective of the blueberry harvesting project is to develop and demonstrate a fully automatic machine for harvesting blueberries, one of the UK’s most important soft fruit crops as the second largest soft fruit sold in the UK, worth £337m per year.The proposed machine is designed to remove berries from the bush by the use of innovative shaking systems, and should be available for widescale deployment by UK growers in 2025.“We’re very privileged to have been offered the grant and to be working with the University of Lincoln, and we’re looking forward to bringing the project to fruition,” said Bob Eyre from Eyre Trailers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Without this grant it would be difficult to bring this product to market, so we’re really grateful.“Blueberry harvesting is very labour-intensive as growers are completely reliant on hand-picking.

"Finding the workers to do it is difficult and expensive, so everybody is looking to reduce the labour costs and make the job more viable. Currently lots of fruit is left unpicked because the growers can’t find the labour for the harvest.“By the end of the project we aim to be manufacturing a machine that’s fit for purpose and that satisfies the blueberry growers. It will be quite a big growth area for us and it could really rejuvenate our business.”

A daffodil harvesting scheme at C Wright and Son in Gedney has also been offered £299,985, is being led by Autopickr in Cambridge with Lincolnshire grower C Wright & Son as a partner.

The Eastern England Launchpad is being supported by by the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils.Ten other successful projects across the area include novel biological defences against aphids, enhancing the fibre content of food and drink products, enhancements in crop breeding, and creating new types of plant-based food packaging.“We’re absolutely delighted that 12 projects have been successful across all four areas in the Eastern England region,” said Effie Warwick-John, UK Food Valley Programme Manager at the Greater Lincolnshire LEP.“The successful projects cover a wide range of innovative projects which align very well with the UK Food Valley’s three core aims of increasing efficiency and productivity through automation and digitalisation, supporting low-carbon food chains and promoting naturally healthy good-for-you foods.“We hope to encourage even more fantastic applications in the next round launching next week to showcase the Eastern England region’s brilliant agri-tech and food-tech innovation cluster.”

Related topics: