Agronomy: South East

Past Event - booking closed

Tue, 14 January 2020

9:00 AM - 1:45 PM

Mercure Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge Road, Pembury, Tunbridge Wells, Kent


With the Government’s future farming policy promoting better protection and utilisation of our natural capital resources, we now know that this will affect the way we farm, particularly with regards nutrient and chemical regimes. Therefore, at this year’s South East Agronomy event, we will hear from experts discussing strategies on how we realistically mitigate these factors by utilising an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Integrated Farm Management (IFM) methodology to develop a robust and sustainable farming business. Topics and speakers include:

On the agenda:
  • Viably establishing your field margins so to encourage beneficials and reduce costs ¬– Marek Nowakowski  
  • IPM strategies to control CSFB – Dr Sacha White 
  • Maxi-cover crop trial: digging into the benefits of using cover crops – TBC 
  • BYDV – the ticking time bomb; current research and control strategies – Dr Gia Aradottir 
  • Integrating IPM/IFM within crop husbandry to make business more efficient and legally compliant (case study)  – Jake Freestone 

Speaker Profiles:

Jake Freestone

Farm Manager Overbury Farms

Between 1999 and 2003 Jake worked for Velcourt as a Farm Manager, in Kent, Gloucestershire and Lincolnshire before moving to Overbury Farms in 2003.  Farm enterprises managed included dairy, sheep, arable, potatoes and sugar beet.

Jake currently manages the 1590 Ha in-hand farming operations for Penelope Bossom trading as Overbury Enterprises on the Gloucestershire/Worcestershire border.  The farm has been in no-till conversion since 2013 and is integrated with a flock of 1200 ewes.  The farm hosts a very diverse Higher Level Stewardship scheme, started in January 2011.

In January 2013 Jake gave a paper at the Oxford Farming Conference, ‘Will Precision Farming Change the Face of UK Agriculture?’ In January 2014 he presented some of his Nuffield Farming Scholarship findings at the Pershore Farming Conference.

In October 2012 Jake was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship, his topic was ‘Breaking the Wheat Yield Plateau in the UK’.  Post Nuffield Jake has presented his findings to the Nuffield Conference and the Institute of Agricultural Managers and their annual conference in November 2014 and also that month was awarded the Farm Business – Food and Farming ‘Progressive Farmer on the Year’.  In 2015 Jake was Runner up in the Farmers Guardian Arable Innovator of the Year Competition.

Jake has been writing a blog ( since 2006 and has been ‘tweeting’ since October 2010 (@No1FarmerJake).  Harvest 2011 saw the launch of his YouTube channel documenting life at Overbury Farms, helping promote the positive aspects of our modern agricultural industry.


Dr Gia Arradottir (NIAB- TAG) BYDV 

Gia’s interests and expertise are in the areas of insect-plant interactions, insect pest behaviour and management in agro-ecosystems. Gia has coupled a keen interest in entomology with the notion that crop protection is an integral component of safeguarding the yield potential of our crops, which in turn is closely linked with food security. At the mechanistic level, studying plant responses to insect pests and how they are able to defend themselves helps us elucidate resistance traits in plants; field trials looking at insect host location, population build up and effect on the plant is an integral component of ensuring identified resistance traits work under field conditions. Currently, Gia is studying aphid resistance in wheat from a diverse background, ranging from wild relatives to modern varieties. The end goal is to identify beneficial traits that can be translated into elite crop varieties and be useful in an agricultural context


Dr Sacha White (RSK ADAS)

Specialises in developing integrated pest management programmes (IPM) for arable pests. A focus of his work at ADAS in recent years has been on cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB), having led projects investigating control methods, larval population surveys for AHDB and monitoring the impact of the 2015 neonicotinoid derogation in winter oilseed rape. He is currently working an AHDB-funded three-year IPM project looking at improving control of CSFB, which includes investigations into crop tolerance, varietal resistance, agronomic risk factors, pest predictions methods and non-chemical control options for the pest. He has presented at numerous grower and agronomist events and scientific conferences, and contributed to several publications, including AHDB’s ‘Encyclopedia of pests and natural enemies in field crops’.


Marek Nowakowski (Independent wildlife and crop advisor)

Marek Nowakowski - Wildlife Farming Company - From childhood Marek has had a passion for both wildlife and farming. Since 1970 he has worked in agriculture as a research scientist and agronomist. In 1998 he helped set up the Wildlife Farming Company dedicated to improving farmland habitats through research, practical experience and training. During his career he has worked with Government, research, policy and commercial organisations. He has demonstrated that wildlife can co-exist with modern, profitable agriculture and has communicated this widely on both television and radio.

John Williams RSK ADAS  - Cover Crop speaker

John is a principal soil scientist and has spent 30 years working with ADAS. He is a Chartered Scientist and FACTS qualified and his research interests include the utilisation of organic materials, nutrient management and diffuse pollution mitigation. He provides strategic policy advice to government, levy bodies and water companies on soil and nutrient management. He is a member of the steering group of the Industry led Greenhouse Gas Action Plan. John was a Work Package Leader for Defra’s Green House Gas Platform Project AC0116 and he chaired Defra’s Research Expert group for the Greenhouse Gas Platform projects. He has detailed knowledge of national fertiliser recommendation systems having led the revision of the organic manures chapter in AHDB’s Fertiliser Manual (RB209). He has authored or co-authored over 100 scientific papers and technical documents and is a Technical Adviser for the UK Water Industry’s Biosolids Assurance Scheme. John is experienced at delivering nutrient management workshops for farmers and advisers and has represented ADAS at national events and overseas at International Conferences.

This event is free to attend and levy funded, but please book your place so that we can plan catering accordingly.

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