The 2nd year Plant and Microbial Sciences class got a chance to get out of the lecture hall and into the field with a visit to G's Fresh near Ely. G's are a family owned business, but are one of the largest fresh produce companies in the world, growing salad vegetables for all of the major UK and European supermarkets, with an annual turnover of £370 million. Product manager Charlie Kisby ran a tour of the lettuce production process, from the sowing of seeds to the automated greenhouse facilities at Second Willow, through to planting in the fields using GPS controlled tractors. With G's producing over 100 million heads of iceberg lettuce a year, the scale of the operation and the technology involved was truly impressive.
After the tour of the growing facilities the class had a classroom based discussion session, brainstorming ideas as to how variation in the production line could be minimised. A wide range of ideas were discussed, including precision farming, soil profiling, crop development and drone technology. G's also highlighted their management training scheme, with one of our former Part II students (Karen Covey, graduated 2013) highlighted as a current management trainee. The visit was a real eye opener for the students, and learning about agriculture in the sunshine rather than the lecture theatre was certainly appreciated.