Meet our team who can help you get the training you need.
Andrew is a BASIS, FACTS qualified TAG agronomist based in Shropshire, West Midlands. He is married with 2 children.Andrew has 32 years of experience working as an independent on farm agricultural consultant and agronomist including 20 years with ADAS and 12 years with NIAB TAG. He has designed and presented a wide range of interactive training courses for government organisations and commercial customers covering all aspects of crop production and business management, as well as interpersonal skills in the workplace.
CORPORATE SERVICES DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
Nick Watson is NIAB TAG’s Corporate Services Development Manager, responsible for business strategy in the Crops and Agronomy Division. This includes liaising with companies and R&D organisations to build a cross-industry joined-up approach in applied crop research and technology transfer – pooling resources and skills and avoiding research duplication – thereby improving the industry’s productivity and efficiency. Previous roles include sales, marketing and technical positions at Syngenta, commercial manager at BASF and crop R&D for a national distributor.
East Regional Agronomist
Andrew is the NIAB TAG Eastern Regional Agronomist involved with technical services to members in the East of England. His background is independent agronomy with 25 years’ experience across Norfolk and Suffolk, including 13 years running his own consultancy and training business, Watson Agronomy Ltd. He also served as the chairman of the Association of Independent Crop Consultants (AICC) for four years, as well as director for nutritional and legislative affairs. Andrew is an experienced trainer and speaker with previous BASIS accreditation for several agronomic courses and has spoken at many events both domestically and internationally.
HEAD OF PLANT PATHOLOGY AND FIELD CROPS RESEARCH, NIAB
Dr Jane Thomas is Head of Plant Pathology and Field Crops Research at NIAB. A plant pathologist by training, she has research interests in pathogen diagnostics, evaluating cultivar resistance and integrated disease management. She has expertise across a range of arable, horticultural and forage crops, with a focus on oilseed and pulses. In addition to her role leading plant pathology, she has responsibility for NIAB’s crop variety specialisms and associated research. She regularly delivers courses and workshops in disease identification and control to national and international audiences.
Head of Farming Systems Research, NIAB
Dr Elizabeth Stockdale is Head of Farming Systems Research at NIAB. Trained as a soil scientist, she is often found enjoying herself in holes in the ground at farming events. She has over 20 year’s experience of research and knowledge exchange in nutrient cycling, soil management and fertiliser recommendation. She currently leads the AHDB-BBRO Research Partnership in Soil Biology and Soil Health which is developing practical tools and information for farmers and growers.
INDEPENDENT AGRONOMIST AND NIAB CONSULTANT
Patrick Stephenson is NIAB TAG’s Northern Regional Agronomist. A key aspect of his role is to ensure that members, particularly in the north, continue to benefit from the wealth of technical information and advice that NIAB TAG has to offer. An award-winning independent arable advisor, he is well-known throughout the region for his work on crop production and farm business management. He has over 25 years experience as an advisor, and was awarded Britain’s Agronomist of the Year 2001 by Crops Magazine and National Arable Advisor of the Year in 2007 by Farmers Weekly.
Senior Research Associate
Mark Stalham is a Senior Research Associate at NIAB CUF. His expertise lies mainly in irrigation scheduling and management, control of common scab and soil cultivation and is currently leading AHDB Potatoes-funded and commercial projects on soil management. He regularly conducts training courses and seminars on the transfer of science into practical solutions for the potato industry.
SENIOR SOIL SCIENTIST AND HYDROLOGIST, ADAS UK LTD
Dr Martyn Silgram is a Senior Soil Scientist and Hydrologist at ADAS UK Ltd., a Chartered Scientist, and a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University. He is a Member of the Institute of Professional Soil Scientists, a FACTS-qualified adviser and Expert Witness. Martyn has over 19 years’ experience presenting agricultural science at workshops, conferences and farming events with HGCA, Potato Council, Catchment Sensitive Farming, Natural England, Defra, and a wide range of agronomy groups, NGOs and industry partners.
Technical Specialist Cereals, NIAB
Sally is a Technical Specialist for DUS testing of cereal crops at NIAB. With over 35 years experience, Sally is currently responsible for character evaluation and uniformity assessments on new candidate varieties entered for National Listing and Plant Breeders Rights. Sally is a senior lecturer on NIAB’s cereal crop inspector courses and has worked in Seed Certification and on a wide range of crops including cereals, oilseeds, herbage and pulses.
MANAGING DIRECTOR, ALLIUM & BRASSICA CENTRE
Andy is Managing Director of the Allium & Brassica Centre (ABC), an independent consultancy company specialising in all aspects of leek, bulb onion and horticultural brassica production and storage. Andy has been involved with numerous AHDB and DEFRA funded research projects. He regularly trains on BASIS/FACTS courses, authors/edits five Assured Produce protocols, is a member of the British Onions R&D committee and is Technical Co-ordinator for the Brassica Growers Association.
Bryce Rham has been an independent agronomist in the west midlands since 1991 (Shropshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire) and provides agronomy advice for his clients covering 10000 ha (primarily combinable crops along with a small area of F Beet and maize). Throughout his career Bryce has ensured that he has continued his education within agriculture and as such was one of the first agronomists in the UK to hold The Basis Diploma in Agronomy. He was awarded the Farmers Weekly Arable Adviser of the Year award in 2008.
SENIOR SOIL SCIENTIST
Paul Newell Price is Senior Soil Scientist for ADAS UK Ltd, a Chartered Scientist and Junior Chair of the Institute of Professional Soil Scientists, with over twenty years of experience working with farmers and advisers on soils issues in the UK and overseas. Paul is a BASIS accredited trainer and leads the FACTS (Fertiliser Advisers Certification and Training Scheme) and Nutrient Management Planning training of ADAS soil scientists and FACTS Qualified Advisers.
Head of Cambridge HQ Trials Delivery Team
Hannah has a BSc in Agriculture and has worked at NIAB for over 15 years in a number of field trials related roles. During her career Hannah has worked on a wide range of combinable crops, sugar beet and potatoes. She is currently responsible for the extensive range of field trials and demonstrations run from the Cambridge centre. This includes the provision of specialist plots for potato seed crop inspector training. Hannah has been running practical field based training courses in potato variety and disease identification for a number of years for both UK and overseas delegates.
CROPS AND AGRONOMY, SPECIAL ADVISOR, NIAB TAG
Jim Orson is a field and research agronomist with a wide knowledge and experience in crop systems and crop protection (notably weed science). He is a farmer’s son who obtained an honours degree at the University of Reading before joining ADAS as a local advisor. He left his post of Head of ADAS Cereals Development to take up the post of Director of Morley Research Centre in 1998 and was subsequently Technical and Research Director of The Arable Group. He has written many conference papers on crop protection and production and is a recognised speaker and trainer on these subjects.
INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT AGRONOMIST
David is managing director of Fresh Produce Consultancy Ltd and Precision Agronomy Ltd. He has 30 years’ experience in providing agronomy advice to growers of salads and vegetable crops, both in the UK and overseas. He is a BASIS and FACTs qualified trainer. He is involved in the salads and alliums R&D groups which decide research priorities and also undertakes research into agronomy issues in salad and vegetable crops. The business also provides services in GPS precision soil sampling, EC scanning, pest, disease and soil moisture monitoring.
Farming Systems and Soils Specialist
Nathan Morris studied for a PhD in Plant Sciences at the University of Reading looking at establishing arable crops in UK cereal stubbles using strip tillage. Nathan now works at NIAB as the Farming Systems and Soils Specialist. He is actively involved in their knowledge exchange and farmer training activities, so his research reaches end users rapidly. Nathan’s particular interests and expertise include developing farming systems to improve soil structure and stability whist maintaining crop productivity. Nathan is a full member of The British Society of Soil Science and the International Fertiliser Society.
Principal Lecturer – Fresh Produce and Horticulture, Harper Adams University
Jim Monaghan is a Fresh Produce lecturer at Harper Adams University. His research experience was originally in cereals before moving into fresh produce crops. Jim also has experience retail having worked at M&S as the Salads Technologist (2002-5) and understands the pressures of QAS on production, chairing the TAC of the Red Tractor Produce Scheme. Jim’s research at HAU covers a broad area of practical issues in fresh produce production, particularly leafy vegetables focussing on optimising inputs for sustainable crop production and developing and implementing food safety systems. Jim delivers bespoke training courses on food safety in the field to UK producers.
SENIOR LECTURER, HARPER ADAMS UNIVERSITY
Paul Lewis is a Senior Lecturer in the Crop and Environment Sciences Department of Harper Adams University. Paul has a trials background but has more recently built up a portfolio of training that runs alongside student teaching and project supervision. He is FACTS qualified, a member of the BASIS Professional Register and a BASIS Approved Trainer, mainly delivering FACTS, Soil & Water Management and Nutrient Management Planning courses. Paul is also responsible for training Environment Agency officers and Natural England's Catchment Sensitive Farming officers in soils and agricultural regulation.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NIAB
Stuart Knight is Deputy Director of NIAB. With a background in agronomy, Stuart’s responsibilities include field crop research, technical services and knowledge exchange. He leads a number of research projects, and his interests include combinable crop husbandry; management of soil and fertiliser nutrients; monitoring and control of cereal fungal diseases; evaluation of new crop protection chemicals; managing within-field variation; decision support; and the impact of farming systems and management practices on farm performance.
Business Development Coordinator, BASIS
As Business Development Coordinator I have an exciting role that allows me to develop new projects, meet a variety of extraordinary people from industry, and give back to BASIS members. Before joining BASIS I lived in Moldova and worked in agribusiness. My work focused on the sale and supply of pesticides, seeds and irrigation systems. My rural background grew into a passion for agriculture and I chose an academic path through biology and chemistry. This culminated in a PhD at a Romanian agricultural university where I also worked as a lecturer for four years.
AGRONOMIST AND TECHNICAL CONSULTANT
Liz Johnson is an independent agronomist and technical consultant with 19 years experience in the Salads industry, having previously worked for G’s as their Farms’ Technical Director. She is BASIS/FACTS registered, has achieved the BASIS Diploma in Agronomy and is currently involved in the BASIS Crop Protection and Foundation courses, delivering the training on Salads. She is also involved with BLSA (British Leafy Salads Association) and BLGA (Baby Leaf Growers Association) R&D groups and represents Salads on the HDC Vegetable Panel.
Phil attained a BSc with honours in Agriculture from Seale-Hayne College. He has over 25 years of experience providing technical advice and training to farmers and other industry professionals. Phil is primarily a combinable crop agronomist, with experience in other crops, including grassland and ecological land management. He has broad experience as a trainer having worked on many projects, some commercially funded and some government funded and therefore has good knowledge of agricultural policy and science.
SENIOR FARM CONSULTANT
Mel is an ADAS Senior Farm Consultant with a solid background in farm management followed by over twelve years working directly with farmers and growers providing technical advice covering best practice in soil, manure and nutrient management. Mel is FACTS and BASIS Soil & Water qualified and is well known throughout the Eastern region delivering advice to groups and individual farmers. Mel is a preferred deliverer for a number of key farming businesses in the region and regularly runs training courses through the Catchment Sensitive Farming initiative.
Owner of Stewardship Ltd
Steve is the owner of Stewardship Ltd, a company offering training and advice on the responsible use of crop protection products. He has trained over 1,000 farm operators in the safe use of granular soil insecticides, and working with the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group has taught many to use metaldehyde responsibly. He has an interest in water protection, and his work in this area has included promoting best practice within the VI Pilot Catchments, chairing Stewardship Groups to raise awareness of the issues, and instigating and managing the Cherwell Study which researched the routes by which surface-water can be contaminated with isoproturon.
Derek is an independent consultant specialising in protected salad crops - mainly cucumbers and tomatoes. He authored/edits three Assured Produce protocols and provides solution culture nutrition to a number of growers in the UK and internationally. He is also the Cucumber Growers’ Association technical officer, sits on the technical committee of the Tomato Growers Association, is a member of the Tomato Study Group, the Green Expert Platform (Holland) and after a long period on the AHDB Protected Crops Panel is now one of their scientific advisors. He is BASIS and FACTS registered, HACCP trained and has provided NRoSO training courses.
PRINCIPAL LECTURER, HARPER ADAMS UNIVERSITY
Dr Ivan Grove is a Principal Lecturer at Harper Adams University in Shropshire, specialising in agronomy, precision farming and nematode control. He worked in commercial agriculture for many years before becoming a lecturer and researcher at HAU in 1999. Lecturing/training includes undergraduates, post-graduate students BASIS and AATP. Research interests and projects include remote sensing for crop stress, nematode management, precision irrigation in horticultural crops and development of an integrated wireless sensor network (WSN) system for real-time irrigation scheduling.
Managing Partner, Swallowfield
David is Managing Partner of Swallowfield, a modern glasshouse facility in West Sussex growing garden shrubs for supply to garden centres. Alongside this, through Swallowfield Consulting, he supplies specialist advice to clients in the food and horticulture industry. David leads FACTS, BASIS and NMP courses for Horticulture. He is a qualified Lead Auditor and is HACCP trained. Among a wide range of business interests, he is also Chairman of the horticultural distributor Fargro Ltd.
Research Leader, Entomologist, Soil Ecologist, Fruit Pest Entomologist - NIAB EMR
My interests primarily revolve around the minimisation of pesticide use in fruit horticulture, improving pollination in fruit crops and incorporating modern fruit growing practices with Integrated Pest Management. The former includes research on improving pest monitoring by developing pheromone monitoring traps, optimising the use of biological control agents and enhancing and fostering local ecology to provide the ecosystem service of pest control. Pollination research is mainly focused around the identification and enhancement of key insect pollinators of a range of UK grown fruit crops including blackcurrant, apple, pear and strawberry. I lead research into invasive pest species, such as, Drosophila suzukii. My taxonomic skills include the identification of Collembola, Araneae and fruit crop fauna. I communicate research to growers and presents papers at national and international conferences. I am involved in the publication of best practice guides.
Head of the Potato Agronomy Group at NIAB CUF
David Firman is Head of the Potato Agronomy Group at NIAB CUF and has been involved in research with potato crops for over 30 years. Following a degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge and a PhD on potato leaf growth, he joined the potato research group at Cambridge University Farm which became part of NIAB in 2013. His research interests include virus and fungal diseases, seed production physiology and use, tuber formation and size distributions and implementing crop modelling systems.
MANAGING DIRECTOR, PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS INTERNATIONAL
Ian is Managing Director of the Practical Solutions International, an independent consultancy company specialising in sustainable, ethical and safe food production. Ian headed up the work at Sainsbury’s on pesticides for many years and was a member of the Pesticide Residue Committee (now PRiF) for 8 years. More recently has been technical director for a number of fresh produce and cut flower companies. He is currently chair of the Fairtrade International Standards Committee.
Research Assistant, NIAB EMR
I am an experienced agronomist and have worked in research institutes in both the UK and Spain. At present, I am undertaking data collection and interpretation for a wide range of publicly and commercially funded Integrated Pest Management and pollination projects. I have experience in fruit quality and pest and disease damage assessment. I also possess accurate insect identification skills and have an understanding of monitoring methods.
WEED BIOLOGY SPECIALIST AND AGRONOMY KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER
John has two roles at NIAB TAG: Weed Biology Specialist, responsible for managing research on weed biology, management and control; and Agronomy Knowledge Transfer Development Manager, involving development and promotion of knowledge transfer activities. He has a degree in Applied Plant Biology and worked on a range of weed projects at Rothamsted Research for 15 years prior to joining NIAB TAG. His most recent research project was ‘Sustaining winter cropping rotations under threat from herbicide resistant black-grass’ (HGCA funded, 2009-2014). He regularly speaks and trains at NIAB TAG Open Days and Agronomy Training Workshops.
SENIOR PARTNER AND INDEPENDENT AGRONOMIST, HAMPSHIRE ARABLE SYSTEMS
Steve has been an independent agronomist with Hampshire Arable Systems since 1988, and is now the senior partner. He provides agronomy advice on combinable crops to over 40 farmer clients covering over 12,000 ha, mainly in Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire. He also works on a consultancy basis for NIAB TAG. Prior to becoming an agronomist, he studied at Nottingham University and Harper Adams, and more recently he has studied for the BASIS Diploma in Agronomy, successfully completing it in 2013. He presents courses for the Farming Advice Service, mainly on cross compliance issues, and for BASIS in Hampshire and Dorset.
Principal Research Fellow, University of Warwick
John Clarkson is a Principal Research Fellow at the Warwick Crop Centre, part of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick. He is a plant pathologist with over 20 years experience and leads a research group focussing primarily on soil borne plant diseases and their control. The work ranges from fundamental to applied studies with the majority of projects involving industry. He teaches on a variety of MSc courses and modules, including plant pathology and invasive species and also gives regular presentations to growers and industry.
COMMERCIAL TECHNICAL DIRECTOR, NIAB TAG
Bill Clark is NIAB TAG’s Commercial Technical Director. He is a plant pathologist by training, with extensive experience in plant biology and applied plant science and a special interest in knowledge transfer. His expertise spans both horticultural and arable crop pathology and during the last 20 years, almost exclusively cereal disease control. He is a prominent public speaker on agricultural issues and has previously been Director of Broom’s Barn Research Centre (the UK’s national sugar beet research centre in Suffolk) and National Cereal Pathologist for ADAS.
Research Assistant, NIAB EMR
I am a Research Assistant in the entomology department at NIAB EMR where I have worked on a wide range of projects focused on research and development for integrated pest management. The majority of my work has been on an AHDB-funded project, SF145, to understand and develop methods for managing spotted wing drosophila (SWD) in the UK. I have also conducted research into pear sucker management through integrated pest management techniques and utilised pheromone traps in soft fruit cropping systems for a wide range of soft fruit pests.
I am an entomologist with an interest in optimising control of arthropod pests of fruit crops by improved monitoring using baits and pheromones, detection of insecticide resistance and integrated pest management using predators. My work is particularly focussed on the monitoring and control of Drosophila suzukii, midge pests of raspberries, and insecticide resistance in predatory mites. Prior to joining East Malling Research, I spent 5 years in Brazil at the universities of Sao Carlos, near Sao Paulo, and Espirito Santo, in the city of Vitoria. At Vitoria, I worked with tropical crops such as pineapples and papaya.
Owner, Independent Consultancy
Jeremy Boot worked for DWP for 35 years, running a fraud team specialising in gangs and gangmasters from Spalding in Lincs. He sat on the ETI’s Temporary Workers committee then, and was part of Operation Gangmaster and inter-Departmental initiatives with Immigration and the DEFRA. Following the establishment of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority in 2004, he became their Head of Compliance and inspectorate until he retired in 2009. Continuing his interest in temporary agricultural labour, he started Independent Consultancy, undertaking private advisory and training work to producers and growers and farmers, big and small, and individuals. He joined ARTIS in 2016. He lives in Nottingham.”
Independent Technical Consultant
Dr Richard Binks is an independent technical consultant specialising in the fresh produce industry. He has over 20 years of national and international experience in technical food management, providing support to farming and food businesses. His areas of specialism include protected crop production, Integrated Pest Management and food safety. He is also a visiting lecturer at Writtle College in Essex. Richard has a BSc in Applied Biological Sciences, and a PhD in nematology from the University of Reading, as well as being BASIS qualified. Richard is also the Chairman of the UK Pepper Technology Group and the British Cucumber Association.
Head of Crop Physiology ADAS UK Ltd
Pete is a crop physiologist who has worked at ADAS for 13 years. He is based at ADAS High Mowthorpe in North Yorkshire. Prior to this he worked as a post-doctoral researcher in crop science at Sutton Bonington, Nottingham University. The main aim of his work is to improve performance and reduce pollution of cropping systems through an understanding of crop physiology, plant breeding and agronomy. His goal is to produce sound practical advice for the farming industry which is based on rigorous and high quality research (he has authored 37 peer reviewed research papers). Important areas of his research include; increasing crop yields sustainably, optimising nutrient inputs to crops, exploitation of precision farming technologies, and lodging control & plant growth regulation.
Senior Lecturer, Harper Adams University
Matthew Back is a senior lecturer/researcher in plant pathology and nematology, who specialises in the use of non-chemical strategies for the management plant parasitic nematodes. Much of his recent work has focused on exploiting biofumigation using brassica cover crops for potato cyst nematode control. He has extensive teaching experience and has been involved with the delivery of short courses such as Concise BASIS and Agrifood-ATP in addition to undergraduate and postgraduate modules. He gives regular presentations to farmer and industry groups on his research at events such as AHDB open days.
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