Soil Symposium


Many of our sessions will include practical case studies with farmers and growers sharing experiences. Our current speakers include:

  • Helen Browning OBE – Soil Association

Helen is a tenant farmer from Wiltshire and founded Eastbrook Farms Organic Meat and the Helen Browning brand of pork products.  Helen is the Chief Executive of the Soil Association in March 2011 and is also currently chair of the Food Ethics Council.

  • Professor Tim Benton – University of Leeds

Prof Tim Benton is the 'Champion' for the UK’s Global Food Security programme. The role of the Champion is to act as a leader, coordinator and facilitator of the programme and to act as an ambassador both for the programme and the area, facilitating knowledge exchange between research and stakeholders in government, industry and society.

  • Dr Julia Cooper – University of Newcastle

Julia works in the area of organic farming and sustainability and has practical and research experience in organic sources of plant nutrients including compost, manure, green manures and cover crops.

  • Dr Anne Kristen-Loes - Bioforsk, Norway. More information will be added shortly.
  • Professor Mark Kibblewhite - Cranfield University

Mark has 35 years experience in environmental and agricultural sciences and more than 25 years expertise in the management of science.  He joined Cranfield in 2002 as a Professor in the National Soil Resources Institute and was its Director before becoming Head of the Natural Resources Department. In 2010, he left his management role to concentrate on consulting, research and teaching. 

  • Professor Carlo Leifert - University of Newcastle

A landmark paper which was published in the British Journal of Nutrition1 on Tuesday 15 July, concluded that there are significant differences in the nutritional content of organic and non-organic crops. The study, the largest of its kind carried out by an international team of experts, led by Carlo and the team at Newcastle University is the most extensive analysis of the nutrient content in organic vs non-organically produced foods ever undertaken.

  • Jeff Lowenfels – Author of Teaming with Microbes and Teaming with Nutrients

Jeff Lowenfels is a weekly columnist for the Anchorage Daily News. He is the founder of Plant a Row for The Hungry, a program that has created over 14 million meals to feed the hungry. A popular national garden writer and leading proponent of gardening using the concepts of the soil food web, Jeff is the former president of the Garden Writers of America and was made a GWA Fellow in 1999. In 2005, he was inducted into the GWA Hall of Fame. He lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

  • John McCormick - Helens Bay Organic Gardens. More information will be added shortly
  • Professor David Powlson – Rothamstead Institute

An international group of scientists, led by Professor David Powlson, Lawes Trust Senior Fellow at Rothamsted Research, have recently published a critical review in the journal Nature Climate Change which concludes that the role of no-till agriculture in mitigating climate change may be over-stated.

  • Dr Elizabeth Stockdale – University of Newcastle

Elizabeth is over-excited about soils and is currently a lecturer in the School of Agriculture Food and Rural Development at Newcastle University. She has been involved in a wide range of research projects connected with the study of nutrient cycling in soils and with the environmental impact of farming systems. She also maintains a strong link to organic farming and has carried out research into nutrient cycling (N, P, K) in organic farming systems.

  • Steve Townsend - CropSystems UK. More information will be added shortly
  • Miroslav Vosátka - Institute of Botany ASCR, Czech Republic

  • Dr Robin Walker - SRUC

Robin is employed by SRUC as a Research Agronomist, with a remit to develop sustainable production systems for crops. Robin has an interest in both organic and non-organic systems, with a desire to develop these systems to deliver benefits not only to the farmer, but to the wider environment. One of his major roles is the management and development of the long-term organic rotation trial at SAC Aberdeen which has been running since 1991. He has a particular interest in crop / soil nutrient dynamics, which stems from my PhD investigating crop growth and N use in reduced input conditions. Recent work has concentrated on the development of systems incorporating legumes into rotations either through undersowing, or as component of an intercrop.

Supported by...

Duchy College European Agricultural Fund ADAS Defra RASE NRM Laboratories Garford Woodland Trust Edaphos Western Seeds

This project is supported by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) for which Defra is the Managing Authority, part funded (or financed) by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.