Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

RRA Board

Directors 2015



Julian GibbonsJulian Gibbons graduated from Wye College in 1984 and joined the family farming business. All arable about 820ha of arable land. Julian sat for 10 years on the NFU’s national cereals committee and currently sit on the South-East Regional Crops board. Board member of the HGCA from 1997-2002 and chairman of it’s Market Development Committee 2002- 2008. He is an non-exec director of Openfield Producers and a long time member of RRA (Long Ashton Members Association).

Peter TaylorPeter Taylor is an Independent crop consultant on 6000 ha’s of land in  Essex/Herts border and South Cambs. Specialising in all aspects of combinable crops, farmer technical meetings and benchmarking. Executive President of AICC, BASIS Board member, CEL Wheat committee (term of office just completed), and Vi Steering Group member.

Andrew McShaneAndrew McShane is the Managing Director of Hutchinsons the 2nd largest employer of agronomists in the UK. He is also a member of the AIC Chief Executive’s committee for the Crop Protection & Agronomy sector.  Andrew has been for 25 years and still is an active agronomist. He is on the BASIS Professional Register and also holds the FACTS, BETA & Plant Protection Award qualifications. After graduating from Edinburgh University with a B.Sc in Biochemistry, Andrew went on to obtain a M.Sc. from Cranfield/Silsoe (thesis on adjuvants in herbicides Supervisor Dr Colin Merritt) and an MBA. He is very enthusiastic about bring scientific ideas into agronomic practice to sustainably improve crop yields and grower profitability.

Helen FerrierDr Helen Ferrier is the NFU’s Chief Science and Regulatory Affairs Adviser. She leads the organisation’s policy work on agricultural science and research, and biotechnology, covering all sectors of farming. Based at NFU HQ in Warwickshire, she leads a team of policy advisers covering plant health, animal health & welfare, farm safety, skills & training, inputs, transport, employment and better regulation. Before joining the NFU in 2004, Helen was a research scientist at Imperial College London, working on probabilistic modelling of dietary exposure to pesticides. She has a background in environmental science and technology..

Julian HaslerJulian Hasler farms in the Cotswolds. He is vice-chairman of HGCA’s R&D Committee and chairs the Knowledge Transfer and Evaluation Groups. He sees RRA as an example for others of how to reconnect the researcher in his laboratory with the farmer in his field and how to make them useful to each other.

 Bill ClarkBill Clark is the Technical Director at NIAB in Cambridge.  He is a plant pathologist who has worked in extension pathology his whole career.  He worked in ADAS for many years, with specialist skills in protected crops and arable crop pathology.  He eventually took on the role of ADAS National Cereal Pathologist based at Boxworth near Cambridge.  Bill later moved to Rothamsted where he was Director of Broom’s Barn Research Centre, based near Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk.  In 2012 he moved to NIAB where he is now one of the Directors of NIAB.  He has a passion for translational research and the transfer of science into practice.

Sarah Cowlrick is Company Secretary to RRA and a Board Member representing AICC (Association of Independent Crop Consultants).  Within her role of CEO to AICC, she manages the national three-day conference each year, oversees various contracts, the plots at CEREALS, as well as the day-to-day management of AICC.  She has been instrumental in AICC’s growth in the last 10 years, which has led to a significant market share and increased membership.  Sarah has been involved in independent agronomy for 19 years, having previously run a business in farm accounting advice and training and working for ICI collecting data for benchmarking.  She sits on various committees representing AICC and is a Director of ICD (Independent Crop Data Ltd) and her own company Agri Business Services (UK) Ltd. 

Susannah BoltonDr Susannah Bolton has been working in the promotion and dissemination of research relevant to agriculture for over 16 years. She has a doctorate in tropical agronomy.  From 1993 she was responsible for the development of international research proposals and science communication and knowledge transfer activities at Rothamsted. She is passionate about the importance of high quality science and its application in agriculture. She joined HGCA as Head of Research & Development and KT in September 2009. Susannah lives with her husband and 2 sons in Hertfordshire.

Nick von Westenholz is CEO of the Crop Protection Association (CPA), a post he has held since January 2013. Prior to joining the CPA Nick worked for the National Farmers Union (NFU), where he was Head of Government Affairs, responsible for managing the organisation’s political relations and heading up its London office. Nick has enjoyed a varied career both within and outside agriculture. He worked for a London-based public affairs agency for many years, advising companies and organisations across a wide range of sectors on media and political relations. He also trained as a lawyer, being called to the Bar in 2007. He lives with his wife and two children on the family’s arable farm in East Hertfordshire. 

Andrew Barr looks after the arable side of a mixed family farm in Kent where he is a keen advocate of conservation agriculture. Other positions include the NFU Crops Board and BCPC disease group and Farmers Weekly farmer focus writer. Prior to farming he obtained a degree in Natural Sciences before a short spell in banking. He is a member of the BASIS Professional Register and is currently studying for a postgraduate qualification with the ATP.