East Malling Research (EMR), the horticultural research station based in Kent, has become part of the NIAB group. The alliance combines EMR’s top fruit and soft fruit research work with NIAB’s expertise in arable crops, potatoes and ornamentals.
The combined organisation will have around 300 staff and turnover more than £22 million annually. NIAB EMR will be established as a wholly owned subsidiary of NIAB, and will continue to operate from its existing site at East Malling in Kent.
Dr Tina Barsby will be chief executive of the merged organisation, with NIAB chief operating officer David Neill becoming managing director of NIAB EMR. In this role he will be responsible for the reorganisation of the business and its financial performance, as well as working with the East Malling Trust to ensure the East Malling site is developed and operated in support of NIAB EMR.
In research terms, the integration will align EMR’s internationally renowned capabilities in horticultural and environmental science, including expertise in plant breeding, soil science, water use and biological pest control, with NIAB’s existing strengths in genetics and pre-breeding, variety evaluation, agronomy research, precision farming and informatics.
“This is a vitally important time for crop innovation, with a rapidly advancing knowledge base and renewed interest in productive, efficient agriculture, driven by the challenges of global food security, climate change and resource conservation,” notes Dr Barsby.
“The move creates a potent new force in independent applied research, bringing together the scientific expertise required to support progressive crop production at all levels, and represents a major step forward in NIAB’s ambition to lead the UK in crop innovation. Our experience of merger and acquisition in recent years – including the successful integration of The Arable Group (TAG) and Cambridge University Farms’ Potato Agronomy Unit as part of the NIAB business - puts us in a strong position to realise the full potential of a combined organisation.”
EMR was first established in 1913 and NIAB in 1919.