Programme & Speakers

Our confirmed speakers are detailed below. Watch our Twitter account to get the latest news.

Tickets are available to book online here

Members can use their discount code to get 20% off the ticket price (members please email the office at to access the code).

The programme of events is as follows:

8:30 Registration & Refreshments
9:30 Morning Session– Opening remarks by Tim Elcombe, Chairman of British Onions Producer Association
9:30 Welcome: Opening talk from main sponsor- Bayer CropScience & Vegetables by Bayer Seminis
9:40 Ensuring a viable and sustainable future for the UK vegetable sector – David Exwood, NFU Vice President
10:00 Encouraging Young People into the Fresh Produce Industry and The Role of Schools – Joe Mann, Queens College Taunton
10:30 UK Retailers: Why do They Make it so Hard – Ged Futter, Director, The Retail Mind
11:00 Refreshment Break & Networking
11:30 The Future for Crop Protection – Jack Ward, CEO, British Growers Association
11:50 Close of the morning session
12:00 Individual R&D sessions
 British Onions Technical Session (1 hour 30mins)

· USA Onion Crop Update and General Economic Outlook – Greg Yielding, National Onion Association

· Addressing the Challenges of Soilborne Diseases in Onion – John Clarkson, University of Warwick

· Managing the Bean Seed Fly – What Next? – Rosemary Collier, University of Warwick

· Growing Onions – Eddie Pedersen, Opico

British Carrots Technical Session (1 hour 30 mins)

· Introduction and Review of 2022 UK Season – Ian Holmes, Strawson Ltd

· European Carrot Group Update – Howard Hinds, Agronomy Connection

· Fitting Flower Strips into Carrot Crops Can Increase Yield, Help Support Nature and Doesn’t Cost the World! – Hannah McGrath, Joint Nature Conservation Committee

· The Importance of Carrot Diversity in Identifying Resistance to Pest & Disease – Lauren Chappell, University of Warwick

1:30 Networking lunch break
2:45 Afternoon session
2:45 Introduction from Second Main Sponsor – Elsoms Seeds & Bejo Zaden
2:55 Where is UK Food Policy Heading? – Tim Lang, Professor Emeritus of Food Policy, University of London
3:35 How is the Cost of Living Crisis Impacting Vegetable Consumption, and What Can We Do About It? – Dan Parker, Veg Power
3:55 Tractors of the Future: The Post-Diesel Engine Revolution – Campbell Scott, Founder of Atomic Tractor
4:15 Closing remarks by Rodger Hobson, Chairman of British Carrot Growers Association
4:30 Conference Closes
7:00 Conference Gala Dinner



          David Exwood – NFU Vice President

David farms south of Horsham in West Sussex with his wife and two sons over 980 tenanted hectares in the heart of the Sussex Weald.

Starting in 1989 with 70ha the business now has arable, dairy beef, Sussex suckler herd and sheep enterprises. In 2003 the Farm Shop opened and sells a wide range of food from the Victorian stable yard at Westons.

He has served previously within the NFU as Branch Chair, West Sussex Council Delegate, South East Regional Chair as well as four years on Governance Board.  David was elected to the position of NFU Vice President in February 2020.


          Joe Mann – Head of Food & Nutrition, Queen’s College, Taunton

Joe was named ‘Best Teacher in England’ by the British Nutrition Foundation in their 2020-21 Education Awards for championing Food and Nutrition. Previously, he has won both ‘Devon Teacher of the Year’ and the award for ‘Best School Food Education’ in Devon. Joe Mann has developed resource materials for both primary and secondary schools and written Food and Nutrition teacher training modules for the Department for Education (DfE). He was also commissioned for a series of educational teaching films for GCSE examining body AQA and presented educational films for GCSE publishers Hodder Education (all filmed at Queen’s). He is also Senior Associate of the country’s largest network of Food Teachers and has been a consultant advisor for the Department for Education (DfE) and two All-Party Parliamentary Groups. He is proud to have set up school kitchen gardens at schools he has taught at and most recently at his current school Queen’s College in Taunton where children grow a huge variety of fruit and vegetables. His example of teaching children to grow their own fruit and vegeatbales in school has led him delivering training to Food Teachers across the country with the British Nutrition Foundation on how schools can create gardens for children to learn where their food comes from. Most recently his pupils enthusiasm for vegetables in school helped launch Sunions, the first ‘tearless’ onions, as his pupils explored the opportunitiies of being vegetable industry employees of the future.


         Ged Futter – Director, The Retail Mind

With almost thirty years of retail industry experience gained in store, supply chain & as a Senior Buying Manager at one the UK’s largest grocery retailers Ged’s background is unique. He regularly provides industry insight via TV, Radio & various print publications including The Grocer, The Times & The Guardian. Since 2015 Ged has been providing Suppliers with training on how to work better with UK Retailers. He is the UK’s GSCOP expert having saved clients more than £60m in the past three years. Ged’s unique position as an ex-Retailer working solely with Suppliers allows him to speak candidly about the UK Grocery market offering an insider’s view on their behaviours and tactics.


        Greg Yielding, Executive Vice President & CEO, National Onion Association

Yielding came to the National Onion Association in 2019 from a 14-year career in the world of rice. He is from Jackson, Missouri, where he had been serving simultaneously as the director of emerging markets and special projects for the U.S. Rice Producers Association, as the executive director of the Missouri Rice Research and Merchandising Council, and as the executive director for the Arkansas Rice Growers Association.

For the National Onion Association, Yielding lobbies for the industry’s interests in ag transportation, trade and labour issues, as well as regulations plaguing the industry. He wants to work toward ensuring regulations are what the industry can live with and that they are actually making a difference.


          Jack Ward, Chief Executive, British Growers Association

Jack Ward joined British Growers as CEO in 2014. British Growers is an association of organisations involved in fresh produce and ornamental production. It comprises producer organisations, crop associations and marketing and promotion bodies. It works closely with 7 producer organisations ranging in size from 10 to 250 growers.

Jack’s main role is around the representation of the Fresh Produce sector. He is co-chair of the Defra Edible Horticulture Round Table and the Fruit and Veg Alliance. He represents British Growers on the Defra Seasonal Labour Working Group and the Agricultural Productivity Working Party. He is a member of the PO experts Group and the Food and Drink Federation Trade Associations’ panel. Jack is also a Trustee of the research organisation PGRO and a Director of the vegetable promotion campaign Veg Power.

Prior to joining British Growers Jack worked for the NFU and was involved in every agricultural crisis for a generation. He then took over as CEO of NPTC before moving to British Growers. He is a Nuffield Scholar, a former Chair of the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust and a former Director of the Oxford Farming Conference.

When not working Jack is a keen rower.


        John Clarkson, Professor, University of Warwick

John is a research leader at the University of Warwick and a member of Warwick Crop Centre based at the Wellesbourne Campus. He leads a team focussing on soilborne diseases across a range of vegetable crops caused by pathogens such as Sclerotinia, Pythium and Fusarium. Research projects encompass basic, strategic and applied approaches funded by government, research councils and industry. Areas include aspects of plant pathogen genomics, diagnostics, ecology and diversity as well the development of biological control, plant resistance and other approaches for disease management.

Recent projects of relevance to onions have investigated the genetics of Fusarium oxysporum causing basal rot and the development of plant resistance (BBSRC HAPI) which has led to work on diagnostics and control of key Fusarium species causing root rots and wilts across multiple crops (AHDB FV POBOF 452, CP204). In addition, John has a long history of research on Allium white rot with a recent project (AHDB FV 449a) investigating different approaches to control. Research on both these pathogens has been enhanced through assembly of a large collection of genetically characterised isolates, development of efficient inoculation systems and larger inoculated field areas in a dedicated quarantine field where consistent and even disease pressure facilitates successful field trial outcomes.

In relation to carrot, projects include recently completed PhD and AHDB projects on Pythium violae causing cavity spot where research has addressed diagnostics, pathogen epidemiology and the development of artificial inoculation systems (AHDB FV 432, FV391). Current research is also identifying new sources of resistance to cavity spot as part of the Defra-funded Vegetable Genetic Improvement project.


            Rosemary Collier, Professor, University of Warwick

Rosemary trained as an entomologist and has worked on the pest insects of horticultural crops for many years. Her main research interest is in the development and application of Integrated Pest Management strategies for horticultural crops. She manages the Pest Bulletin and was Science Lead for the AHDB SCEPTREplus project.

Rosemary is Chair of the UK Insecticide Resistance Action Group and a member of Royal Horticultural Society Science Committee.


         Hannah McGrath, Senior Adviser – Land Management and Biodiversity

Hannah has recently finished her PhD based at Rothamsted Research and Reading University whilst also working closely with Huntapac Produce. As a Waitrose PhD student, Hannah studied the impact that flower strips had on carrots grown in commercial Huntapac crops. Specifically, this project aimed to increase numbers of natural enemies which would then go into the crop to reduce aphid numbers and subsequent virus damage which reduces the yield of sellable carrots. Hannah’s talk at this event will cover the circumstances where and how it is possible to integrate flower strips into carrot crops without negatively reducing net yield or increasing grower costs.


          Campbell Scott, Founder of Atomic Tractor

Campbell is the founder of Atomictractor Ltd. A start-up Company dedicated to the development and consultancy in low carbon vehicles for agriculture. His career included 32 years working in Massey Ferguson and latterly AGCO Corporation. During his time with Massey Ferguson, he visited more than 60 countries on MF business ending up as Director Marketing Services for Europe, Africa and Middle East with a team of 50 Marketing professionals responsible for the marketing of the Massey Ferguson brand. Notable projects included the launch of MF 300/3000 Series, AGCO Parts and 10+ parts, the 50 Year celebrations of the MF brand and the Antarctic 2 Expedition.

Campbell is a Chartered Marketer with a BA in Marketing and Economics from Strathclyde University and an MSc in Agricultural Engineering from Silsoe College. He currently works also part-time as a Lecturer at Coventry University and is a Lantra approved Tractor instructor.


       Eddie Pedersen, Head of Sales and Marketing, FarmDroid

With experience from small and medium sized companies in various industries, Eddie has, since 2020, been responsible for building the FarmDroid brand and developing FarmDroid’s distribution channels.

FarmDroid has gone from only selling in Denmark to more than 18 countries in Europe and North America, Eddie has contributed to FarmDroid’s rise as one of the leading companies in the agtech industry.

Eddie spends a lot of his time talking to farmers and organisations to always stay on top of the needs and challenges of the industry.


        Tim Lang, Professor Emeritus of Food Policy, City, University of London

Tim Lang is Professor Emeritus of Food Policy at City University of London’s Centre for Food Policy which he founded in 1994 and directed until 2017. Hill farming in Lancashire in the 1970s formed his interest in the relationship between food, health, environment and culture, which he’s worked on ever since. He was policy lead on the EAT-Lancet Commission’s 2019 Food in the Anthropocene report and is Senior Advisor to the Food Research Collaboration linking academia with civil society on food matters. His books include Feeding Britain (Pelican pb 2021), Sustainable Diets (Routledge 2017), Food Wars (2nd ed 2015).


            Dan Parker, Chief Executive, Veg Power

Dan Parker has worked in marketing and advertising for 25 years. As Chief Executive and Executive Creative Director of marketing innovation agency Sponge, he pioneered online, mobile and location marketing for the world’s largest food, restaurant, grocery, media, and technology brands.

Since 2015 he has consulted on the role of advertising in public health and childhood obesity for UNICEF, EU, OECD, Jamie Oliver, Cancer Research UK and the Department of Health & Social Care.

In 2018 he partnered with The Food Foundation, Baroness Boycott, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Sir John Hegarty to launch Veg Power. Veg Power is a not-for-profit organisation which inspires kids to eat more vegetables best known for the multi-award winning Eat Them to Defeat Them campaign. Now in its fourth year, the campaign reaches into the homes of 46 million people and the primary schools of 1,000,000 pupils with 59% of parents and kids saying they ate more vegetables as a result. The campaign has so far increased vegetable sales by nearly one billion children’s portions. Veg Power also encourages people to buy seasonal British vegetables to reduce their carbon footprint, support British farming and enjoy tastier and more nutritious vegetables.


    Lauren Chappell, Warwick Crop Centre

Lauren is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Warwick, Warwick Crop Centre. She works on the Vegetable Genetic Improvement Network project (VeGIN), a Defra funded research programme that brings together research focused on key vegetable crops carrot, onion, leafy vegetables, and salads. The project encourages collaboration between industry and researchers to address how genetic improvement of crop varieties can contribute to a sustainable increase in food production. Her main interest is in vegetable pathology, understanding pathogen epidemiology as well as identifying new sources of resistance to pest and disease.


    Howard Hinds, Agronomy Connection

Howard Hinds qualified from Nottingham Trent University in 1983 in Applied Biology. Prior to setting up his own consultancy in 2006, he has been involved in the commercial agricultural sector with potato processing agronomy, vegetable sprayer development and root crop consultancy. The Consultancy is based in Nottinghamshire, from where it provides independent services for carrot and parsnip businesses in the East Midlands, North East and Scotland. The service is tailored to individual client needs, from comprehensive agronomic management to expert witness cases. Service charges are on a crop area or time basis, depending on the type of work required, and are offered at competitive rates. The Consultancy has a passion for root crops and is committed to delivering a service that leads to the highest levels of crop production and profitability for its clients.


        Ian Holmes. Strawson Ltd

Ian Holmes is Company Agronomist for Strawson Ltd, a farming business based in Nottinghamshire growing over 4000ha of carrots, parsnips, crisping potatoes and a range of arable crops. He joined Strawson Ltd in 2013 after qualifying from Harper Adams University with a degree in Agriculture with Crop Production and 8 years working for Syngenta as an Area and Field Technical Manager. As one of 2 in house agronomists within the Strawson business he is responsible for crop management across the range of crops the business grows.

In addition, Ian is Chairman of the Research and Development committee for the British Carrot Growers Association, helping to direct the focus of work to help the industry moving forwards.


This year's conference is kindly sponsored by: