Continued access to pesticides is crucial to improving agricultural productivity, the new chairman of the NFU combinable crops board has warned.

Mike Hambly, a farmer from Callington, Cornwall, succeeded Hertfordshire farmer Andrew Watts, who has stood down after two years in office and 10 years on the board.

“My job is to lead the board on the important issues for our sector such as availability of crop protection tools,” said Mr Hambly.

Tighter regulations have fuelled concern that more pesticides could be withdrawn or restricted – as has already happened to varying degrees with isoproturon, metaldehyde and neonicotinoids.

Mr Hambly said access to the science and technology were needed to make the crops sector more productive and minimise its environmental impact.

It was also important to ensure implementation of CAP reform measures did not drive growers in the opposite direction.

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“It is going to be a big challenge, but one I look forward to and I am honoured to lead the board,” said Mr Hambly.

Changes to the NFU combinable crops board for 2014-2016 include the appointment of farmer Tom Bradshaw from Essex.

Mr Hambly also paid tribute to Robert Lasseter, who served on the board for two years. Robert Lockhart from Staffordshire was elected board vice-chairman, replacing Mr Hambly.

“I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the work Andrew has done over the past decade and particularly for his work as chairman”, said Mr Hambly.

“With his close association with a number of live issues such as seeds, the ePassport and wayleave payment rates, he will no doubt still have a valuable role to play in both the NFU and wider industry.”