Innovative celery grower wins M&S Select Farm Award

Celery grower, Ivalyo Kostadinov, has been announced as the regional winner of the Innovation Awards in this year’s M&S Select Farm Awards at the Royal Welsh Show.

As the winner of the Innovation Award category in England & Wales, Ivalyo was recgonised at the official M&S Select Farm Awards presentation on the M&S stand during this year’s Royal Welsh show, during which his 15 years of dedication to developing more efficient ways of growing celery were given formal recognition.

Ivaylo is Celery Product Director at G’s Fresh, in Barway, Cambridgeshire, and has played a pivotal role in helping the business grow celery more efficiently and with minimum waste. He has been a key driver in designing targeted plant nutrition plans, as well as advocating research projects, in partnership with PhD students, that will benefit celery production.

“One of Ivaylo’s most recent projects has been to develop an automated celery harvesting machine,” explains Nick Hutter, Technical Manager at G’s Fresh. “Traditionally, celery is harvested by hand and is incredibly labour intensive. The new automated harvester can cut and transport celery to a mobile platform, where it is quickly packed into boxes, ready for further processing and storage in our factories; significantly improving the efficiency of harvesting and helping to mitigate against increasing labour costs.

“Ivaylo has also trialled growing new, longer varieties of celery which produce two lengths of stick-pack size celery, as opposed to one; significantly increasing the productivity of land used for celery cultivation. In order to successfully grow these long varieties of celery, Ivaylo developed drip irrigation systems that have not only dramatically reduced water and fertiliser requirements for growing celery crops, but also helped produce stronger crops that are more resistant to disease.”

The M&S Select Farm Awards are held annually to celebrate producers in the M&S supply base and the awards are open to all farmers and growers that supply M&S. The awards have three categories; the Innovation Award recognises producers pushing the boundaries in their sector, the Young Producer award champions young, forward thinking individuals and the Award for Excellence focuses on producers that have demonstrated all-round outstanding performance in their sector.

Steve McLean, Head of Agriculture and Fisheries at M&S, said: “Ivalyo has been involved in celery production for many years and the knowledge and expertise that he has gained during his time at G’s Fresh has enabled him to develop ground-breaking growing methods and technologies that have significantly increased the efficiency of celery production.

“M&S is committed to producing food ethically and with as low an environmental impact as possible, so it is great to hear that the innovations Ivalyo has helped to drive forward have also helped to reduce food waste, fertiliser use and need for pesticides.”

As a regional winner in the M&S Select Farm Awards, Ivalyo was presented with a certificate and M&S gift vouchers on the M&S stand during this year’s Royal Welsh Show.

Image Caption: Ivaylo Kostadinov in Celery field

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