Soils in Practice Speakers


Karl Schneider

Karl Schneider is editor of Farmers Weekly and editorial director of Proagrica, the global agriculture media, software, data and connectivity business.

Karl has been a business journalist for 30 years, working closely with the Farmers Weekly team for more than a decade and before that holding senior roles on some of the UK’s biggest titles including New Scientist and Computer Weekly.

Karl Schneider
Editorial director
Farmers Weekly

Andrew Moir

Andrew Moir runs his own contract farming business near Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire. He is char of the Voluntary Initiative in Scotland, the immediate past chair of AgriScot and chair of Scottish Quality Cereals. Andrew helped establish the current Monitor Farm initiative in Scotland and has been a member of the AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Board since March 2014.

Previously, Andrew was farm manager with the Cooperative Farms for 18 years, initially on a 650ac dairy/arable farm but latterly looking after 4,500ac across nine businesses from Perthshire to Aberdeenshire, mainly in contract farming arrangements. In 2006, Andrew started his own contract farming business at Thornton Mains.

Andrew chaired the Combinable Crop committee for NFU Scotland from 2011-2015 and is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society.

Andrew Moir
Voluntary Initiative, Scotland

Audrey Litterick

Audrey is a practical crop and soil scientist who specialises in soil assessment, soil management and the use of fertilisers and organic materials (including composts and digestates) on land. She works with inorganic and organic waste processors to develop and optimise quality products and by-products such as composts and anaerobic digestates. She also works with farmers and other land managers to ensure the safe, effective use of composts, digestates, animal manures and a range of organic wastes, by-prodcuts and products on farmland and in the restoration of land degraded through opencast mining.

Key interests lie in the practical measurement of soil health and the development of methods to maintain and improve the health of agricultural soils and soils restored for agriculture, forestry and amenity. She has contributed to several definitive guidance documents on the use of fertilisers and organic materials in agriculture and horticulture and in the restoration of brownfield land.

Audrey worked at Scottish Agricultural College and Aberdeen University for almost 20 years, developing sustainable and organic crop production methods before leaving in 2010 to join Earthcare Technical.

Audrey Litterick
Practical Crop & Soil Scientist

Ben Barron

Ben farms over 200ha in Perthsire with his family. Leitfie Farm is a mixed arable and beef unit, growing grass for livestock plus barley, wheat, oats, beans and oilseed rape, with the intention of trying linseed in 2020. The rotation at Leitfie will be a diverse 7 crop 9-year rotation with 3 break crops.

Ben has a keen interest in managing, protecting and improving farm soils, and investigating regenerative agriculture techniques that she can successfully use on the farm. The farm moved to a no-tillage system in 2015 and the first year produced excellent results.

Ben moved away from growing vegetables on the farm as he could see the negative imipact these crops were having on his soil quality. Cover crops have been grown on the farm but, to date, it proved too expensive and there is not a large enough window in which to grow and get the most benefit out of them. Ideally, the farm would like to fully switch to winter cover crops.

Ben wants to see how far fertiliser and chemical use can be reduced whilst also measuring and monitoring the effects of this new strategy.

Ben Barron
Leitfie Farm

Dr. Jonathan Holland

Dr. Jonthan Holland is a research agronomist at The James Hutton Institute with an interest in understanding the effects of soil properties on crops. Dr. Holland has more than 15 years’ expereicne in field-based agronomic-type research and has developed an extensive knowledge of temperate-region cropping systems within the UK and Australia.

Main research interests include soil fertility (including soil P & K, soil acidity and liming), management practices and precision agriculture. Understanding the ‘how and why’ of agricultural production systems has been central to his previous research activities. Within the development of new technology, interests include how to utilise new soil and crop monitoring and evaluation techniques. This includes using proximal sensors, geophysical instruments and unmanned aerial vehicles to explore spatial patterns.

Jonathan is keen to explore and test innovative options (e.g. new practices or varieties) for cropping that assist with the various challenges farmers face today, contributing to improved understanding and solutions that improve arable practices.

Dr. Jonathan Holland
Research Agronomist
The James Hutton Institute

Professor Chris Collins

Professor Chris Collins is Chair of Environmental Chemistry at the University of Reading. He is the Natural Environment Research Council Soils Coordinator overseeing a £10 million research investment to improve our understanding of how soils resist, recover and adapt to land use and climate change.

Collins chairs the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee providing expert advice to the UK Government on how to protect the environment from chemicals. He is also a member fo the UK Natural Capital Committee which supports the implementation of England’s 25yr Environment Plan.

His research focusers on determining the factors controlling exposure of biota to environmental pollution and recent research has focused on the role of soil organic carbon in modifying pollutant exposure and the parallels between pollutant and carbon cycling in soils using high level analytical techniques such as mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance. This work has been supported by a wide range of funders across industry, government and research bodies.

Prof. Chris Collins
Chair of Environmental Chemistry
University of Reading

Steve Larocque

Steve is an independent crop advisor based out of Three Hills, Alberta. As owner of Beyone Agronomy, he provides strategic advice on crop production, timing, technology and equipment. Steve works with farmers around the world from Ukraine to Kenya, Australia to Canada.

Steve is a first generation grain farmer and runs a no-till controlled traffic and fencerow farming system. He’s run a 9M CTF system since 2010 and plants canola, wheat, barley, peas, lentils and faba beans in rotation. He is a 2007 Canadian Nuffield Scholar and international speaker.

Steve began controlled traffic farming in 2010 after completing his Canadian Nuffield Scholarship on CTF in 2009 and was the first to fully implement CTF in Western Canda. Steve was involved with the Controlled Traffic Farming Alberta (CTFA) project that involved the comparison of CTF beside conventional no-till systems. The project looked at soil structure, water infiltration, weed pressure, soil biology, yield and the economics between conventional no-till and CTF with no-till. Steve will discuss his journey through CTF and fencerow farming.

Steve Larocque
Beyond Agronomy

Tim Chamen

Tim Chamen trained as an agricultural engineer and spent 25 years at Silsoe’s Institute of Agricultural Engineering Research where he worked on tillage tool development and the effects of machinery compaction on soil and crop responses over a period of ten years. As part of the compaction experiment, he project managed development of an experimental 12m gantry tractor for field-scale trials.

Since leaving Silsoe in 1996 he has worked independently, undertaking contracts for machinery manufacturers in the UK and US, the EU, a UK producer-funded body, Natural England and others.

Always maintaining the thread of avoiding compaction damage to soils, in 2004 he initiated a 6-year field demonstration of controlled traffic farming (CTF) in the UK in partnership with John Deere, Unilever and Dale Drills. Since then Tim has worked independently to promote CTF in the UK and with partners across mainland Europe. This involved running farm-based workshops, training days and producing web-based information for a CTF member organisation. The CTF network is now supported by the NIAB.

In 2011, he recieved a doctorate from Cranfield University covering the impact of field traffic on soils and crops, and the profitability of CTF systems.

Tim Chamen
Agricultural Engineer

Charlie Reynolds

Charlie is from a farming family in Northamptonshire. After graduating from the RAC in 1991, Charlie started his farming career as an assistant manager on a 1,000ha cereal and beef farm in Leicestershire before returning to the family farm in 1995.

The business increased in size and in the early 2000’s with pressure on farm incomes, the decision was taken to become part of a joint venture arable business, with three local farming families. This allowed Charlie to work more widely, passing his BASIS Facts qualification while also completing further CPD courses.

While working part-time in consultancy, particulary precision farming, the opportunity arose to be the interim Farm Manager at Courteenhall Farms, eventually turning into a full-time role. Courteenhall Farms now contract farm his home farm after the disolution of the joint venture farming business.

Charlie Reynolds
Farm Manager
Courteenhall Farms

Dr Joanna Cloy

Dr Joanna Cloy is a soil scientist currently working as a researcher at Scotland’s Rural College. Joanna completed her PhD in environmental geochemistry at Edinburgh University in 2006, after which she worked as a research fellow and then a lecturer at Edinburgh University.

Joanna’s current soil research centres around agricultural systems under different management activities, assessing soil structure (VESS) and quality, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon and nutrient dynamics. She also delivers knowledge exchange workshops and teaches Edinburgh University postgraduate and undergraduate students.

Dr Joanna Cloy
Soil Sceintist

Professor Jennifer Dungait

Jenni Dungait runs an independent soil science consultancy “Soil Health Expert” and is an Honorary Professor at SRUC, an Assistant Professor at the University of Exeter, and the Editor-In-Chieef of the European Journal of Soil Science. In this unique position, she straddles the interface between academic research and practical application in industry and has developed strong working relationships with farmers across the sector in the UK.

With a PhD in Organic Geochemistry and a MSc in Crop Protection, jenni has nearly 20 years’ experience of the application of hard science to problems of soil management in agriculture. In particular, she has a global reputation for expertise in soil organic matter management, including soil carbon sequestration in farming systems.

Professor Jennifer Dungait
Independent Soil Science Consultant
Soil Health Expert