Cawood expansion allows complete agri analytical service

Three acquisitions over the last twelve months mean that Cawood Scientific, the UK’s largest independent provider of analytical laboratory testing services for the land-based industries, can now offer a fully integrated range of animal, soil and plant analyses.


The company notes that analyses are becoming an increasingly important tool in farm and environmental management, particularly in measuring soil health. “Farm and environmental managers are increasingly basing their decision-making on sound science, to better target inputs and improve efficiencies,” says Cawood managing director Nigel Patrick. “As leading specialists in this area it made sense to expand our services, to offer a complete package of analytical services across the entire agricultural, horticultural and environmental sectors.”

The first acquisition was Mambo-Tox, which is based at Southampton University, a business that specialises in soil ecotoxicology. It works with international agrochemical manufactures in providing data for regulatory approvals, through evaluates agrochemicals for their efficacy in laboratory and field conditions, as well as their impact on non-target insects like honeybees.

The second purchase was St David’s Laboratory Services, located in Dungannon, County Tyrone and now rebranded Sci-Tech (Ireland). It focuses on poultry serology, performing diagnostic work for poultry producers and vets throughout Ireland, work that complements the services provided by Cawood’s existing Sci-Tech laboratories in Shropshire. 

“Our laboratories offer high quality microbiological and blood testing across all aspects of poultry and porcine production – from the hatchery to the abattoir,” explains Mr Patrick. “Not only can this help pinpoint potential health issues, but also demonstrate compliance with industry regulation.”

The third and most recent acquisition is Enitial, a Wolverhampton-based operation offering environmental monitoring and support services. The company has over 70 accredited samplers throughout the UK to monitor emissions and pollution from facilities such as landfill sites and water treatment works.

 “Enitial is a good fit for Cawood, as our accredited analytical testing service is now joined by an accredited sampling team,” says Mr Patrick. “Our entire focus is on the delivery of sound science to help customers manage their businesses effectively and profitably.”

The three new additions will operate as business divisions within Cawood Scientific alongside the three existing ones - Sciantec Analytical Services in Yorkshire, servicing all aspects of animal nutrition; NRM Laboratories with labs in Berkshire and Norfolk providing agricultural, horticultural and environmental services within the land-based industries; and specialist in veterinary diagnostics Sci-Tech Laboratories in Shropshire.

“There is a growing concern about the health of our soils,” notes Lord Donald Curry, chairman of Cawood Scientific. “It featured very strongly in the Government’s Health and Harmony consultation document. We need to respond to this concern with targeted action, which requires intelligent data. Cawood Scientific can provide the independent data to allow agricultural managers to better utilise their inputs, whether growing crops or keeping livestock, and in doing so improve their productivity.”

New boss for Arla UK

Milk processor and dairy product manufacturer Arla Foods amba has appointed Ash Amirahmadi as UK managing director from July 1st. He replaces Tomas Pietrangeli who is leaving Arla to become chief executive of the Danish retail group Dagrofa.

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Mr Amirahmadi first joined Arla Foods in 2004 from Unilever. He is currently senior vice-president sales for Arla Foods in the UK, a role he has held since 2016, with responsibility for all UK customer relationships and the global lead for Tesco and Walmart (ASDA). During this time sales have grown by some £200 million, with 9% growth in Arla’s branded portfolio.

Before that he was vice-president of milk, members and trading for five years, where he oversaw the merger of Arla with Milk Link in 2012. This brought 1,300 UK dairy farmers into the co-operative, with the combined 2,400 UK farmer owners increasing Arla’s domestic milk supply from 1.6 billion litres to over 3.5bn litres.

“Ash has been at the heart of the transformation of our UK business over the last decade and has a deep understanding of the UK dairy sector and the consumer and retail trends which are providing its growth opportunities,” comments Arla Foods’ executive vice president for Europe Peter Gioertz-Carlsen. Over recent years he has led the development of our category growth strategies in partnership with our customers fostering the growing impact of our farmer producer groups, who work closely with customers, to engage shoppers and consumers in the provenance and quality of our products and the leading practices they follow on their farms to constantly improve quality and sustainability standards.”

Posted on June 25, 2018 and filed under Livestock, People.

New sales manager for Corteva

Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDuPont, has appointed William Corrigan as its new crop protection sales manager. Mr Corrigan took up his new post on June 1st this year, stepping into the role vacated by John Humphreys, who will retire at the end of the year. Mr Humphreys has been with Dow AgroSciences for the past seven years. 

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Mr Corrigan comes from a livestock farming background. He joined Dow’s technical team in 2010 after finishing his Master’s at University College Dublin, and his career includes regional and national business roles, mostly in fungicide product management. His new post, which involves overseeing key account management and area management teams, brings him back to the UK after four years of leading the Irish business.  

“This is a very exciting time for the business with an unparalleled product pipeline being developed for UK and Irish farmers,” Mr Corrigan says. “We have key milestones ahead of us delivering a full and exciting pipeline of products for UK and Irish farmers. My role is to ensure we have a talented, professional team on the ground to maximise the impact of these innovations.

“We want to work with progressive, modern farming businesses and their advisors to understand more about the challenges they face and the solutions we need to develop for them.”

Posted on June 25, 2018 and filed under Crop Protection Products, People.

Microbiome focus for future animal health

Anizome is a US start-up business formed to focus on the animal microbiome as a way of enhancing livestock and pet animal health, while reducing the use of conventional treatments such as antibiotics.

The business is backed by three investors: Stonehaven Consulting, the business founded by former Novartis Animal Health chief George Gunn to use human pharma technologies to disrupt the veterinary sector; Diversigen, a Texas-based business working on the human microbiome using science developed at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine, which is Anizome’s third backer.

The start-up is based at Diversigen’s facilities. It is led by Oliver Hardcastle as chief executive, with previous senior experience at Novartis, Elanco and Stonehaven; and Dr Scott Carter as chief scientific officer, who has worked at Baylor College, Elanco and Alltech.

Anizome claims that its commercial therapeutic microbiome discovery platform, which is dedicated to animal health and nutrition, is the first of its type on the market. The platform will enable the company to develop novel diagnostic and therapeutic solutions that can prevent disease in animals and optimise their performance.

“Recent discoveries are causing us to rethink the way we treat disease in animals. The microbiome holds great promise, not only in reducing antibiotic use in livestock, but also in creating personalised solutions for our pet animals,” says Mr Hardcastle.

“If you were to build this platform from scratch it would take several years, an investment of tens of millions of dollars and require significant expertise,” he continues. “The team we have at Anizome is a world leader in the microbiome sphere and will be developing a pipeline of candidates to tackle some of the most significant animal health challenges. By utilising the advancements made in human health, we will be able to improve animal welfare and productivity.”

Posted on June 25, 2018 and filed under Animal Health, Company News.

Northern Ireland’s agri-research partnership

Northern Ireland’s Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast have agreed a new strategic alliance to create a globally competitive agri-food research and education partnership.


The two institutions have worked together in the past, and will continue to retain their independent status under the new alliance, but with increased emphasis on effective collaboration. The alliance will use the diversity of skills, knowledge, facilities and capacity within the organisations to achieve a greater impact in the global agri-food and food security areas. The alliance intends to become a significant contributor to sustainable and environmentally sensitive agri-food systems at a global level, whilst providing greater wealth generation and distribution locally.

“The agri-food industry is set to experience a period of unprecedented change in the next decade, given the major global challenges of increased food demand, climate change and pressure on land use, coupled with continued volatility and uncertainty in agricultural production and food systems,” noted AFBI chief executive Dr Sinclair Mayne speaking at the launch event.

“At the same time, the global and UK research arena is undergoing major change, with research institutions and universities merging or developing alliances to achieve the necessary scale to be competitive and achieve impact,” he continued. “This alliance with Queen’s University Belfast will enable our agri-food science base within Northern Ireland to keep pace with these developments, thereby ensuring that the local agri-food and biosciences sectors have access to world leading science to assist them in evolving and adapting to new challenges and opportunities.”

Professor Nigel Scollan, director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, added: “At a time when the world’s population is growing at its fastest ever rate, food security is a major global challenge. Responsive, high quality research, education and partnership are essential to ensure the agri-food sector remains innovative, sustainable and globally competitive.

“This alliance between Queen’s University Belfast and AFBI builds on the strengths of both organisations and will create a globally connected, state-of-the-art research, enterprise and education alliance to address these huge global issues.”

Professor Scollan finished: “Through the alliance we will focus on tackling the challenges in agriculture and food security, training the next generation of leaders and experts who are equipped with the knowledge and skills required to transform our current food production systems. By working in close partnership, we will help to ensure that food production and consumption is resource-smart, climate-smart and eco-healthy.”

Posted on June 25, 2018 and filed under Company News, R&D.

MVF joins CIEL

Farmer-controlled feed manufacturer and rural supplies group Mole Valley Farmers has joined the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) in a move it says further strengthens its commitment to support and develop UK ruminant research.


CIEL, which opened in March 2016, is one of the four Agri-Tech Centres funded through the government’s 2013 Agri-Tech Strategy, and is managed by Innovate UK. The private-public partnership combines academic institutions and industry businesses to direct research, develop projects and commercialise research findings in livestock rearing and food products from its base at the FERA Sand Hutton complex near York. The overall aim is to lift UK food quality and farming productivity, while helping to develop the industry skills and training needed for the future through post graduate study.

Dr Chris Bartram, MVF’s head of nutrition, will be a member of CIEL’s ruminant research steering group. He believes the Centre offers a major new opportunity for the feed industry to work closely with research centres. ”The research must provide practical solutions to current and emerging challenges in each sector,” he explains. “With our farmer members, experienced field team and specialist technical team, MVF is well positioned to help identify the key questions and facilitate knowledge transfer.”

Existing CIEL commercial partners include Cranswick Country Foods; Devenish Nutrition; Dunbia and ForFarmers UK; with further support from AB Agri; Alltech; Genus and Zoetis. Academic partners include the universities of Edinburgh (The Roslin Institute); Leeds; Nottingham; Newcastle; Aberystwyth; Bristol; Queens (Belfast) and Harper Adams, alongside Rothamsted Research; the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Northern Ireland (AFBI); Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC); Fera and the Duchy College.

Russia to stay as powerhouse of world wheat market

Russia is going to keep its position as the world’s major wheat exporter, but Argentina has big ambitions to expand its role, this week’s International Grains Council Conference in London was told. Speaker after speaker stressed that climate change is becoming a major issue for the global wheat trade.

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Jesús Maria Silveyra, undersecretary of agricultural markets at Argentina’s Ministry of Agro-Industry, said: “we need to export more and more because Argentina needs to generate income to reduce poverty.”

Russia and Ukraine were growing fast, he noted - “We are a little afraid of Russia and Ukraine.”  Meanwhile, climate change is one of Argentina’s main concerns.  “It is a fact, the increase in temperature,” Mr Silveyra stressed.  “It is not a joke.”

Gulmira Isaeva, Kazakhstan’s vice-minister of agriculture, described the problems of a major wheat exporter with no access to the sea. “We cannot realise our potential fully,” she explained. 

“One of the challenges that is very important at the moment is climate change,” she continued.  Varieties in Kazakhstan had traditionally been selected for drought.  Now the country needs types of grain that can deal with more moisture.

Peter Gooday, chief commodity analyst for the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), stated that productivity growth was the only way for Australian farmers to increase their profitability. The most important factor in achieving that was long-term investment in innovation. 

Climate change is also a substantial challenge for Australia.  “It’s important the government and others don’t impede the kind of adjustments and investments in technology that are necessary to respond to climate change,” he noted.

Andrey Sizov, managing director of Russia’s SovEcon, reminded the conference that 2017/18 Russia grain production had hit a record 135 million tonnes, mainly because of increased wheat production.  “Yields are growing relatively slowly, but they are growing,” he said.  There had been some expansion in area over recent years.  “It’s not exploding,” he continued.  Milder winters because of climate change meant that more winter wheat was being produced while the spring wheat area is declining. 

Russian production had also been encouraged by the devaluation of the rouble and a period of relatively high commodity prices. He estimated the 2018 wheat crop at 73 million tonnes.  “The total supply of wheat for next season is likely to decline after five years of growth, but it’s still the second highest,” he said.  He estimated exports at 37 million tonnes. “Russia is very likely to remain the number one wheat exporter in the new season,” he said.

Swithun Still, director of Solaris Commodities of Switzerland, described Russia’s expected 40 million tonnes of wheat exports this season as “stupendous.”  However he felt that Sizov’s 37 million tonne export forecast for next season was optimistic.  “It’s going to be hard to improve the yield in the South,” he said.  

 “Russia will remain the focus, particularly in wheat, where it is the powerhouse,” he said, estimating Russia’s 2018/19 wheat export potential in “the low 30s, maybe 32” million tonnes.

Posted on June 22, 2018 and filed under Grain Trading.

Ministerial send off for GAFT Charity Cycle Relay

The GAFT Charity Cycle Relay is underway. The first leg started at the W Duffield & Sons feed mill near Canterbury in Kent on Tuesday, visiting Tilbury Docks, United Molasses’ offices in the City of London and the Farmers Club before making an appearance at the GAFTA Dinner held at London’s Landmark Hotel.

 Pictured: David McBrearty (Cargill), Charlie Brindley (Gemcom), George Eustice, Cliff Eaton (Cargill) and Charles Delf (ForFarmers).

Pictured: David McBrearty (Cargill), Charlie Brindley (Gemcom), George Eustice, Cliff Eaton (Cargill) and Charles Delf (ForFarmers).

Wednesday saw the official launch by Defra Food & Farming Minister George Eustice outside the Houses of Parliament.

 The relay will last for six weeks, and involves a 3,700 mile journey linking participating businesses the length and breadth of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Before finishing at Stoneleigh Park on July 31st, the Relay will have visited over 170 different ports, mills and agribusiness sites, with over 75 companies contributing riders.

The initiative aims to raise funds for the Farming Community Network (FCN), which provides farmers and their families with vital support in times of need.

 “It’s fantastic to see so many people supporting such a worthwhile cause and I wish everyone taking part the very best of luck,” said Mr Eustice.

To donate to the fund and support FCN visit

Pictured: David McBrearty (Cargill), Charlie Brindley (Gemcom), George Eustice, Cliff Eaton (Cargill) and Charles Delf (ForFarmers).

Posted on June 22, 2018 and filed under Agribusiness charities.

Adapt to Brexit for positive outcome, Cereals speakers urge

Brexit will change the UK agri-food industry, but this could be positive if government encourages, rather than restricts sector growth, speakers at last week’s Cereals 2018 advised.

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The opening Cereals Controversial seminar, chaired by Sir Peter Kendall, heard  Allan Wilkinson, head of agrifood at HSBC, say the UK stood at a moment of history – there would be much more uncertainty over the next five years but also more opportunity. With a growing world population to feed, and increasing affluence raising demand for high quality food and drink products, especially meat in developing economies, the UK could be well placed to benefit. But it must maintain its standards and actively produce for these more demanding markets, rather than relying on commodity export sales.

“We are going to see things evolve over the next five years that we haven’t even dreamed about,” said Mr Wilkinson. “The opportunities are immense.”

NFU president Minette Batters advised that the image of UK agriculture is immeasurably better than it was around 15-20 years ago after BSE and foot and mouth disease. The UK has under-exported its food and drink products for years, she continued, and she had faith in Michael Gove to make a difference. But his “green Brexit” vision is only possible if underpinned by a profitable, commercial agriculture, she stressed. The UK is currently the world’s third cheapest food producer, but with the highest cost of regulatory compliance, she said – Mr Gove needs to address this in promoting high quality British food and drink exports. He also needed to beware the increasing food chain consolidation, especially the Sainsbury’s/ASDA merger.

“Food security has to be taken more seriously,” she concluded. “Michael Gove is a big hitting politician and he can really make a difference, but we need a new deal.”

The AHDB’s Martin Grantley -Smith noted that the cereals, oilseeds, beef and lamb sectors were most dependent on CAP subsidies, and farmers in these enterprises needed to address their costs and seek to raise productivity to survive post-Brexit.

“All possible outcomes of Brexit are going to change our business environment. To prepare for that, farmers need to understand their business and costs of production, and have access to the right information to make good decisions,” he stated.

“The arable industry is enjoying a honeymoon period before Brexit, with access to support payments and EU markets, and reasonable grain prices,” concluded Sir Peter. “Now is therefore the time to act and prepare for future change by coming together, sharing knowledge, and being ambitious.”

Also speaking at Cereals, Bayer’s head of business for the UK and Ireland Michael Muncey called on the UK government to fast track its development of agricultural policy.

“The European Union’s lack of commitment to productive agriculture is of great concern, and we believe that there is an opportunity for UK farmers and growers to not only survive Brexit, but, given early access to new products and new technologies, it can start to flourish.  But it is not a given: ‘gold plating’ current EU rules will not generate the confidence and concomitant investment by farmers and the whole supply chain.”

Bayer had been disappointed to lose the European Court case over the neonic seed treatment ban and continues to be concerned at the European Commission’s inability to re-approve important tools for UK and Irish farmers, he continued.”Losses of products that have never failed a regulatory hurdle in Europe undermine the industry’s confidence in investing there.

Brexit will require increased productivity and competitiveness - which will be enhanced by new technologies and new product development. Mr Muncey welcomed Defra’s recent approval of gene editing trial work in the UK.

“The next five to ten years will bring unprecedented change to the farming industry, and while there are many issues that farmers can’t control, there is plenty they can do to prepare,” he finished.

Posted on June 22, 2018 and filed under Brexit, UK Policy & Regulation.