Speakers (in alphabetical order)

Thomas Beach, Managing Director of Autonomous Agri Solutions Ltd

Infield Automation – A practical approach

An agricultural engineer passionate about providing commercial autonomous solutions and integrating robotic systems to support in the progression of UK agriculture and horticulture, Thomas will focus on what are the current and near-future applications for commercially available automation using field scale technologies. With specific focus on ROBOTTI and how Autonomous Agri Solutions can deliver and integrate such technologies.


Sarah Calcutt, City Harvest

Sarah joined the Food Board of City Harvest at the end of 2020, and her work with City Harvest focusses on giving surplus British grown fresh produce, that is out of a retailer specification, a beneficial purpose, rather than a landfill or AD plant destination

Sarah is a fifth-generation farmer from the Weald of Kent, and has spent the last 25 years working within the vibrant food and rural business community

Sarah is also Deputy Chair of the Agri-Epi Centre, focussed on agritech innovations and automation and machine-based learning to increase the profitability and sustainability of future farming. She is also a Non Exec Director for Outfield Technologies, a drone-based tech sector leader, and for New Covent Garden Market, Britain’s largest wholesale produce & flower market.

In addition to her non-exec roles Sarah is Vice-Chair of the Rural Policy Group, a debate & lobbying forum focussed on ESG, the circular economy of environment, health, food security and financial sustainability, Exec Chair of the National Fruit show and SE Chair of the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust.


Dr. Grzegorz (Greg) Cielniak,  Associate Professor at the Lincoln Agri-Robotics centre

Potential of robotic technology for vegetable production

Having obtained his Ph.D in Computer Science in Sweden, and a MSc in Robotics in Poland, Greg’s research interests include robotic perception and navigation in unstructured outdoor environments, with a focus on robotic application delivery in agriculture. In this talk, he will discuss the existing challenges and barriers to the wider adoption of robotic technology in vegetable production and demonstrate some of the existing robotics research illustrating promising applications for crop protection, in-field transportation and harvesting.


Rosemary Collier, Professor, School of Life Sciences at Warwick University

Emerging Pest Insect Problems – Swede Midge and Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle

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.

Rosemary will be giving us an insight into the emerging insect problems of Swede Midge and the Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle.


Dr Catherine Eyre, Plant Pathology Consultant, ADAS Horticulture

Grower led Spinach damping off trial

Catherine has been involved in the AHDB funded SCEPTRE Plus seed treatment research work conducted by ADAS. She has a background in soft fruit breeding and forest pathology and has worked in academic and industry research. Her research interests are in plant protection and novel tech for solving horticultural problems. She will present work conducted by her former ADAS colleague, Dave Kaye.


Kiran Hari, Business Development Manager, Living Foods Ltd, NZ

A New Zealand Industry update

Kiran, from a multi-generational vegetable growing family, was born to grow. He remembers weeding lettuces at the age of ten and stacking crates of lettuce at age 15. Formerly a lettuce and cauliflower grower, Kiran is today a Business Development Manager, working for Living Foods, a supplier of leafy greens based in Auckland, New Zealand.

Kiran is also on the Vegetables New Zealand Board.  Vegetables New Zealand advocates for vegetable growers and helps the industry find solutions to challenges. He has been involved in the annual Young Grower of the Year competition, run to promote careers in New Zealand’s nearly NZ$7 billion vegetable and fruit growing industries.

At the conference, Kiran will talk about Living Foods and what the company does.  He will also provide an update on where the brassica and leaf industry is at the moment in NZ.


Dion Garrett, Post-Doctoral researcher at Rothamsted Research

Green-bridging the gaps: insights into the cryptic life history of a poorly understood aphid, Nasonovia ribisnigri

Dion is a molecular entomologist at Rothamsted Research. He recently completed a PhD with the University of Warwick, based at Rothamsted Research along with an industry partner, G’s Fresh. His main areas of interest are insect vectors of crop diseases, population genetics and Integrated Pest Management.
He will present some of his work conducted during his PhD at Rothamsted Research on the most damaging pest of outdoor lettuce, the currant-lettuce aphid and provide insight into their future management strategies


Dr. Alison Lees, Senior plant pathologist at The James Hutton Institute

Characterising downy mildew of lettuce and spinach

Dr. Alison Lees specialises in the epidemiology, detection and control of plant diseases including potato late blight, lettuce downy mildew and the soil-borne potato diseases powdery scab, black dot and rhizoctonia.

Alison has a particular interest in Integrated Pest Management and provides pathology support to the Hutton’s potato breeders. She is one of the coordinators of Euroblight ‘A Late-Blight Network for Europe’ and manages the plant health research funded by Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services (RESAS) Division, the aim of which is to develop strategies for the sustainable control of damaging pests and diseases.


Dieter Lloyd, Managing Director, PamLloyd Food Marketing & PR

Consumer Trends

Dieter Lloyd is Managing Director of PamLloyd Food Marketing and PR (PLPR), the specialist agency with two decades’ experience in fresh produce marketing working for clients including: British Leafy Salads, Asparagus Growers, Brassica Growers, UKShallots and British Carrot Growers. Dieter has over 30 years’ experience in marketing and commercial positions. Following roles in publishing with Mirror Group and the Omnicom agency group, he joined his wife Pam at PLPR in 2007. Since 2015 Dieter has been the BLSA spokesperson. In this role he has appeared on radio, TV and spoken to national news media on issues such as eColi 157 and Listeria contamination, crop availability due to weather fluctuations, food and labour shortages related to Brexit and Coronavirus, chlorine washes in bagged salad and price increases due to flooding in overseas growing regions. Dieter is a dad of two boys, a Bristol Bears rugby fan and a novice sports photographer.


Dan McAlpine, Head of Food Sourcing, City Harvest

Dan joined City Harvest as the Head of Food Sourcing in July 2020. He comes with a background in food manufacturing, working for major UK own-label suppliers Bakkavor and Adelie Foods. He is now turning his attention to saving and repurposing surplus food from all parts of the supply chain, ensuring where possible edible food finds its way to a human plate


Dan Parker, Chief Executive, Veg Power

How is the cost-of-living crisis impacting vegetable consumption, and what can we do about it

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 it is 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 vegetables 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.


Professor Simon Pearson is the Director of the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology, University of Lincoln.

Defra’s Review of Automation & Robotics

Simon has become a leader in inter-disciplinary research in the field of agri-technology by bringing together academic and industrial experts who are striving to improve technological, environmental and human capital aspects of the food industry. This research embraces a diverse range of agri-technology applications including robotic systems, automation and design for manufacture of integrated e-hubs for agricultural vehicles. Simon is seeking to develop agri-robotics to drive productivity across the agri-food sector, including crop harvesting, phenotyping and crop care. Through the UKRI-EPSRC funded project, The Internet of Food Things. Simon brings together a network of experts to investigate how artificial intelligence, data analytics and emerging technologies can enhance the digitalisation of the UK food supply chain.


Andy Richardson, General Manager of Allium & Brassica Agronomy

Is there anything left to spray?

Andy is General Manager of the Allium & Brassica Agronomy, specialising in all aspects of bulb onion and brassica production and storage.  He has over 30 years agronomy/storage experience in field vegetable production both in the UK and abroad.

Andy is currently Technical co-ordinator for the Brassica Growers Association and a member of the British Onion Producers Association Research and Development Committee.   He has been Secretary/Treasurer of the Vegetable Consultants Association since 2009.    BASIS/FACTS lecturer on Integrated Crop Management and the Plant Protection Award module for the BASIS diploma at Lincoln University for over 20 years.


Graeme Sait, CEO, Nutri-Tech Solutions

Chasing the Biggest Bang

Graeme Sait is an author/educator responsible for hundreds of published articles, a popular book entitled, “”Nutrition Rules” and a highly successful podcast, Nutrition Farming Podcast, which has many thousands of listeners across over 60 countries. His TED talk, “ Humus saves The World” has over 300,000 views. Graeme is the founder of leading Australian company, NTS, and he formulated all of their 200+ unique products. He also developed and teaches the internationally acclaimed, Certificate in Nutrition Farming. He has trained over 40,000 farmers and consultants, on four continents, over the past 22 years, with this popular course.

Graeme often consults at governmental level in Europe, Asia, Africa and America. He has been responsible for the successful conversion of a large supermarket chain in South Africa to biological food production.

Graeme Sait is a sought-after conference presenter, addressing a wide range of professionals ranging from farmers to soil scientists and environmentalists. His inspirational presentations are often described as “Life changing!”


Brent Shedd, CEO, Stout Industrial Technology

Automating Agriculture with Artificial Intelligence

Brent Shedd is the CEO of Stout Industrial Technology, an artificial intelligence company helping growers automate labour-intensive tasks like weeding with smart farming implements that utilize machine vision and mechanical actuation.

 Founded in 2019, Stout sold its first Smart Cultivator in 2020 and now has machines with thousands of hours on them. Each machine can cultivate up to a hectare per hour depending on crop and soil conditions. The Smart Cultivator works as an in-row weeder for a variety of vegetables including lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, radicchio, celery, chard, artichokes, collard, bok choy and mustard greens using mechanical knives to remove weeds without the use of chemicals. New crops are added regularly.

 Brent is a serial founder of AI companies in Silicon Valley and a passionate advocate of disruptive technologies, He often speaks about the impact of artificial intelligence in labour-intensive industries like agriculture.


Phoebe Sutton, Plant Scientist, Vertical Urban.

Utilising Plant Light Responses in Controlled Environment Agriculture with LED Lighting

A graduate of the University of Bristol and currently finishing her PhD in artificial lighting and plant nutrient content at Lancaster University, Phoebe works as a plant scientist at Vertically Urban, a Yorkshire based horticultural lighting company.


Ben Taylor-Davies, Regenerative Consultant, Regenben

The healthy food dichotomy

Ben Taylor-Davies, born and raised on a farm in Ross-on-Wye before studying geography at Liverpool University. A job as an agronomist was going extremely well until 2012 when our young son was involved in a horrific horse accident which changed everything, forever and had a huge impact on my mental health. A Nuffield scholarship in 2015/16 ensued where I studied blackgrass but much more than that was fortunate to travel the world and look at all aspects of farming, the ideas of regenerative agriculture resonated with our farm ethos of hedge planting and increased biodiversity and spaces for nature and soon decided it was time to put the fun back into farming! Since this decision we have regenerated our farm, environment, family and mental health – its been an incredible journey.

Jack Ward N.Sch, FRAgS, CEO, British Growers Association

The Future for Crop Protection

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 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.


Andrew Watson, Quantitative Horticultural Consultant, ADAS Horticulture

Propagation With Peat-Free Substrates

Dr Andrew Watson has a background in theoretical physics and a career in data analysis, computation and mathematical modelling. He joined ADAS two years ago to continue designing peat-alternative growing substrates for container systems. He is also developing software for carbon accounting in horticulture.


Andrew Williams, Grower, Home Farm, Nacton

Robotti – A Grower’s View

Andrew’s career began with a job on John Fenton’s arable farm on the outskirts of Ipswich.

After 18 months he felt the need to try something completely different and joined the Royal Navy, enjoying two very formative years, then returning to civilian life with a job repairing shipping containers while searching for a route back in agriculture.

Eventually he took up a position with Andy Mayhew at Waldringfield, working there while attending Otley agricultural college & then Walford College in Shropshire to study for a National Certificate in Farm Management.

Andrew returned to Andy at the end of the course, taking a role as farm foreman six years.

Unable to secure a management position on a farm at that time, myself and a good friend set up a contracting business, J&A Farm Services, which we ran until I joined Home Farm Nacton Ltd in May 1997 as Farm Manager.