Sainsbury's has introduced a way of trebling apple yields without increasing the acreage, cutting pesticide use per apple.

A trial orchard at Rankins Farm in Kent is capable of producing 60 tonnes of fruit per hectare because the trees are planted closer together in special fertiliser.

It was planted at the end of April with Royal Gala, Cox, Braeburn, Delbar Estival, Rubens, Junani, Pinova and Bramley.

If it proves successful, it will be rolled out more widely and the retailer is encouraging growers to see the orchard for themselves.

Sainsbury's has

confirmed that the bigger profits would be given straight back to the grower. Adrian Barlow, chief executive at English Apples and Pears, admitted that English growers had not been quick to raise apple yields and welcomed the pilot. He said: "As a model farm to give growers ideas as to best practice, this is an excellent development and I would congratulate Sainsbury's on its initiative."