Andy Cook is production manager at Tangmere Nurseries, responsible for the yellow bell pepper and sweet-pointed varieties, both of which are grown under glass in an area which covers 7.5 hectares (17 acres).
ANDY Cook has worked in horticulture for more than 20 years and for the past five years has turned his knowledge and passion to sweet peppers. At Tangmere Nurseries, he is production manager, responsible for the yellow bell pepper and sweet-pointed varieties, both of which are grown under glass in an area which covers 7.5 hectares (17 acres).
The coastal location of the nursery is well suited for growing peppers as they benefit from the increased light levels. Day-to-day, Andy monitors the glasshouse environment; light, temperature, air humidity and CO2 concentration are accurately measured and adjusted to control the influence of the external weather (wind, rain and sunshine) on the internal climate.
During August, British peppers are in peak season and Andy and his team are busy carrying out essential tasks to maintain crop health and production, as well as harvesting the peppers by hand.
Tangmere Airfield Nurseries harvests about 65 million sustainably grown peppers each year and is a leading producer of fresh peppers to UK supermarkets.
Located in the South of England, more than 800,000 plants are grown inside modern glasshouses covering an area of 30 hectares (74 acres). Conventional bell and sweet pointed peppers are harvested between February and December.
The site has an integrated approach to crop management, using advanced biological control techniques. Natural predators are introduced to maintain healthy crops and reduce residues.
An onsite combined heat and power (CHP) plant exports enough electricity for 10,000 local homes and the waste gas (CO2) is used productively in the glasshouses to grow peppers.
Water is recycled using a closed irrigation system which collects excess water (not absorbed by the plants), then partially sterilises and re-circulates the same water with no waste.
All effort is focused on one aim: to deliver a sustainable crop, producing quality peppers to the highest British food safety and farming standards.