HTA at Scotland’s Plant Health Conference

The Horticultural Trades Association were delighted to support Scotland’s Plant Health Conference that took place in Edinburgh on the 28 May. Professor Gerry Saddler, Chief Plant Health Officer for Scotland and Head of Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), welcomed delegates to the conference followed by the official opening of the event by the Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon MSP.

Professor Ian Toth provided an overview of the activities of the Plant Health Centre (PHC) which is a virtual centre of expertise to help tackle plant health challenges for Scotland. Professor Chis Quine then lead a Xylella biosecurity briefing and discussion which included a number of presentations on Xylella research projects that have been funded by the PHC.

Ten speed presentations followed which showcased the diversity of plant health related research that is taking place across a range of Scottish research institutions. The presentations covered the economic, social and environmental implications of plant health in Scotland.

In the afternoon Alistair Yeomans, the HTA’s Horticulture Manager presented the latest developments on the Plant Healthy initiative and the self-assessment tool that has now been used by over 100 businesses across the UK. This was followed by a panel discussion on Brexit and its implications for plants and trade. This session was chaired by Chris Quine and included John Spiers (Plant Health Senior Policy Advisor – Scotland), Richard McIntosh (Assistant Chief Health Officer, Defra) and Alistair Yeomans (HTA).

The last session of the day covered Scotland’s changing climate and the implications for plant pests and pathogens before the closing remarks were provided by the HTA Chairman, James Barnes. James remarked on the impressive plant health activity that is taking place in Scotland and reflected that the biosecurity benefits of incentivising a strong home-based horticultural production sector were becoming increasingly clear.

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