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New Forecasting Tool Promises £30m Boost for UK Pea Industry

The Processors and Growers Research Organisation (PGRO) has unveiled an innovative forecasting tool aimed at revolutionising the UK’s pea industry. The tool, which took four-and-a-half years to develop, is designed to pinpoint the optimal time for harvesting vining peas, promising significant economic and operational benefits.



Leah Howells, a data scientist at PGRO, has been at the forefront of creating this vining pea tool. It integrates remote sensing, machine learning, weather patterns, and historical yield data to extend the harvest forecast window from two days to ten.


This advancement not only aids in predicting the yield of growers’ harvests with greater accuracy but also in managing the flow of crops into freezing plants more efficiently, thereby reducing the necessity for manual crop maturity checks.


“The machine learning aspect of the tool is incredibly powerful,” Howells remarked. “By analysing a vast dataset, it can identify trends and patterns that can be applied to new data, allowing for more accurate predictions.”



The tool is expected to bring about a £30 million saving for the industry, provided 80% of the sector adopts it within the next five years. Its daily updates offer a comprehensive visualisation of relevant information, taking into account the yield and maturity traits of different pea varieties to enhance accuracy further.


One of the significant advantages of this tool is its potential to simplify the harvesting process by reducing the need for daily tenderometer readings in the lead-up to harvest. “Right now it’s incredibly difficult to predict harvest date in peas, with the current heat-based methods becoming less accurate as temperatures rise and drought-like conditions become more common due to climate change,” Howells explained. The PGRO aimed to create a model resilient to the changing climate, capable of serving the entire industry both now and in the future.


Growers interested in leveraging this technology can access the subscription-based tool from March onwards by reaching out to the PGRO or visiting their website at www.pgro.org.


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