The Institute of Horticulture (DARZKOPIBAS INSTITUTS) is independent research organisation supervised by the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies. LatHort scientific development and activities are closely related with EU policy (e.g. RIS3, EC strategy). Elaboration and improvement of growing technologies in horticulture (fruit and vegetable production) towards sustainability is one of the main scientific directions of the Unit of Agronomic Research and Variety Testing of LatHort. Trial planning, management and implementation are daily duties of staff involved in the project. LatHort has long-term collaboration with producers and associations in the field of horticulture and related branches, ensuring good information flow also between horticulture enterprises. Current agronomic research of the Unit of Agronomic Research and Variety Testing is performed on fruit crops and vegetables.

The main focuses are approbation and adaptation of environment-friendly (integrated and organic) production technologies to promote commercial horticulture in Latvia and increase its competitiveness, e.g. increasing soil quality and biological activity, including investigations on innovative growing systems (intercropping, strip cropping, legumes growing, use of agroecological service crops); possibilities to obtain high quality horticultural products, increasing production efficiency, including resource economy and sustainable use; development of risk-reducing growing technologies by using methods of precision agriculture. Environmentally friendly technological approaches in horticulture have been studied as the technologies enhancing biological activity of the soil and their elements, as well as the replacement of the herbicides with soil mulching; reduction of soil fatigue for berry crops and fruit trees, reduction of apple production periodicity by sustainable and environment / society-friendly growing technologies. The skills and experience, as well as premises, equipment and available softwares can ensure implementation of the project. During the last five years, LatHort took part in 22 national and 19 EU funded projects; registered 7 national patents and 32 cultivars of horticultural crops.

ROLE WITHIN THE PROJECT: Institute of Horticulture will work on establishing the pilot studies and innovation hubs on the test sites in Latvia. LatHort will continuously give feedback about the results and operation accommodate visits of interested farmers, thus acting as a true demonstration field.