The head of Rothamsted Research, Achim Dobermann, is to step down after five years at the helm in December to take up consultancy roles in his native Germany.
The man who started out as a sprayer operator on an East German state-run farm become chief executive of Britain’s biggest agricultural research institute in 2014, with a remit to speed up the time that basic science reaches the field.
The 58-year-old professor is resigning to return to Germany and his last working day at Rothamsted will be 13 December.
“Yes, I am leaving Rothamsted and returning to Germany after 27 years away,” he told Farmers Weekly.
His mantra to drive field-orientated science to produce healthier soils and crops came as a shift from a previous focus at the institute on genetics and genetic modification (GM).
The most powerful man in British farming research said GM is not always the answer and added when he moved to Rothamsted: “If we want to address the big problems in agriculture, we need to move faster to the field.”
Before moving to the world’s oldest farming research body, with its 176-year history, Prof Dobermann’s academic working life took him to the rice fields of Russia, a world-renowned institute in the Philippines and the prairies of the US.
A Rothamsted spokesman confirmed that the institute’s board had already started the process to find Prof Dobermann’s successor.