Europe, UK, Ireland

AHDB’s latest recruit will provide support to key potato growing region

AHDB has welcomed a new recruit to work with potato growers in the east of England.

David Wilson has taken on the role of Knowledge Exchange Manager (Potatoes) for East Anglia and the South East. David will be using his experience and knowledge of the potato industry to work with growers on a number of key AHDB initiatives.

Having started out as a farm manager and then agronomist, David’s impressive CV includes time spent at leading food manufacturer McCains. He joins AHDB from agrochemical firm Syngenta where he was employed as an area manager and potato specialist.

David’s comprehensive experience of the industry means he is well qualified to provide support in a key potato growing region of the UK and familiar with many growers throughout the country.

Discussing his new role, David said: “Having spent the majority of my career working in and alongside the potato industry, joining AHDB’s Arable Knowledge Exchange Team seemed like a natural progression. I’m looking forward to supporting growers by sharing knowledge, challenging perceptions and providing new ways of working.

There are a number of issues facing the industry: regulatory changes mean that we must be more resourceful when it comes to crop protection, while the prevalence of a number of damaging pests and diseases mean that it remains crucial for growers to be open to new ideas.” 

David joins AHDB’s the newly-formed Arable Knowledge Exchange (KE) team, following the decision to combine the Potatoes and Cereals & Oilseeds sector teams. The merger brings together expertise and levy payer facing activity across cereals, oilseeds and potatoes.

David will join Dr Bill Watts, who recently joined as KE Manager (Potatoes) for the West Midlands, South West and Wales. Bill specialises in potato cyst nematode (PCN) control and has been overseeing the presentation of results from AHDB’s Strategic Farms at events in the west of the UK.

Working alongside David and Bill are the rest of the Arable KE team focusing on potatoes: KE Manager Amber Cottingham; Senior KE Manager Graham Bannister; Knowledge Transfer Manager Dr Anne Stone; and KT Officer Kathryn Hales.

AHDB Knowledge Exchange provides the first point of contact to growers, and others involved in the industry, looking to access services funded by the levy. The new Arable Knowledge Exchange team of 22 KE and KT professionals provides a more coordinated and effective offer to the arable sector through joined up events, resources, campaigns and stakeholder engagement.

The team will also provide expertise on areas common to both potatoes and cereals and oilseeds such as: soils, rotations, benchmarking and integrated pest management. Following the drought conditions experienced last season and with Brexit on the horizon, knowledge exchange continues to offer a vital service to growers facing uncertainty and challenging conditions.

Graham Bannister said: “We’re delighted to welcome David. His experience and knowledge will make a valuable addition to the team and ensure that AHDB continues to provide growers with practical and relevant information to an ever-changing industry.”

Farmers can contact David directly by emailing david.wilson@ahdb.org.uk.

Source: AHDB