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Seb's food waste research

Posted 11 October 2011

“I really enjoyed the placement because I learnt about a different area of agriculture and also the practical side of research.

19-year-old Sebastian James

Harper Adams agri-food student, Sebastian James, spent the summer identifying areas of waste in the fresh produce supply chain as part of a 10-week research placement.

19-year-old Seb from Windsor worked for five weeks at the University College in Shropshire and five weeks at Reading University.

His research looks at the produce that can’t be marketed from the field or greenhouse and during packaging and processing, specifically potatoes, lettuce, strawberries, cut herbs and spinach.

Seb, who is currently Treasurer of the Students Union, said: “During the placement I did background reading and research to learn the basics of fresh produce production and to get an idea of where areas of wastage would be. I then prepared questionnaires and organised visits to fresh produce growers.”

During the 10 weeks, Seb visited PDM Produce in Shropshire, Lower Reule Farm in Staffordshire, VHB in West Sussex, Vitacress in Hampshire and Mack Multiples in Kent.

After each visit he produced individual case studies including the results of the questionnaire, background to the business, a supply chain diagram and growing methods. This was then complied into a document and presentation.

Seb, who has recently started the second year of his BSc (Hons) Agri-food Marketing with Business Studies degree, added: “My findings have now been passed on to a PhD student who will use my work as a base for their own research.

“I really enjoyed the placement because I learnt about a different area of agriculture and also the practical side of research.

“Fresh produce is definitely an area I would consider for a future career and I hope the placement will prove useful in applying for a placement job for my third year.”

Seb’s placement was part of a series aimed at those studying plant science, environmental science, agriculture or horticulture, at an undergraduate level at any institution across the UK. He worked alongside a student from Reading University.

The placements were based at the Fresh Produce Research Centre at the University College and the students worked on industry supported projects alongside a group of agronomy and crop physiology experts.

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