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Your horticulture team

Think of some of the challenges you face, together with the whole horticulture industry: the continued loss of chemical actives driven by tighter regulation – a consequence of the desire to protect human health and the environment; increasing resistance to fungicides and pesticides; the need for sustainable food security versus pressure on land use.

Certis’s horticulture team is uniquely placed to help you meet these challenges, and more. As a company with its roots in horticulture, we provide experts in every core discipline. They can work with you to devise intelligent, integrated crop protection programmes for your growing situation. At the same time, they’re looking to the future as crop protection moves inevitably towards more natural solutions.

You’re welcome to contact the team, any time. Simply call 0845 373 0305 or use this form and someone will get back to you.

Peter Shakespeare, Country Manager

Marketing & technical

Nathan Whitehouse, Marketing Manager

Nathan’s role is as a facilitator – building the company’s overall marketing team, helping it focus and develop, improving how it works, and encouraging real creativity in its communications.

He’s seen many sides of the agricultural business from the start. Both grandfathers were farmers – one arable, the other horticultural – and his father was a seed production manager. Nathan himself has achieved BASIS, was a horticulture product manager at Bayer and, before that, advertising and promotions manager at Syngenta.

From this perspective, he’s only too aware that successful crop production isn’t simply about fruit or vegetable products – it’s vital to understand the context in which they are used and the problems and challenges that growers face.

Nathan says:

There will always be a need to protect crops. However, the way this happens continues to evolve, for example with biorational products and improvements in breeding techniques.

Selchuk Kurtev, IPM Manager

For Selchuk (or Semo), the best part of his job is interacting with customers on a technical and commercial level to identify market opportunities.

Specifically, he works with growers, agronomists and technical and commercial leads, as well as researchers, industry bodies and regulators – on one hand to enable them to get the maximum benefit from IPM; on the other, to understand it better.

Agriculture is in Semo’s blood. He grew up in the heart of Bulgaria’s arable farming area, and his family grew their own fruit and vegetables.

Following a degree in forestry and game-keeping, he worked first in the UK in hardy ornamentals, becoming a technical manager, horticultural agronomist and part of the AHDB Hardy Nursery Stock Panel, where he helped shape the first biopesticides factsheet. Today, he’s active in the NextGen Fruit Group and is a keen bee-keeper.

Semo says:

A key but welcome challenge is the shift towards sustainability by using new technologies from biorationals in nature and integrating these in programmes for the good of our community and the environment.

Kate Downes, Marketing Communications Officer

Kate works on all aspects of communications across Certis’s four main portfolios: horticulture, potatoes, arable and seed treatments.

In addition to a degree in chemistry, Kate has a strong agricultural pedigree. She grew up on a family farm in West Wales, and all her relatives are involved in agriculture.

Kate joined Certis as part of the MDS Graduate Scheme, which trains young people to become leaders in food and fresh produce. She particularly values the company’s move to digital communications, and was instrumental in launching a new website in late 2018.

Kate says:

Future opportunities may involve using more balanced programmes, mixing conventional and biological chemistries as well as incorporating more and more technology.

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Customer support

Geoffrey Bastard, Technical Specialist – West of UK and Ireland

Geoff supports growers, agronomists and independent consultants with expert product and technical knowledge.

He welcomes growers’ enthusiasm for novel approaches and working with manufacturers. It’s not unusual for Geoff to set up trials with growers to discover how to extend the use of Certis products.

Geoff grew up on a farm in Cornwall where he recently planted his own vineyard. He studied agriculture at Harper Adams and worked as an agronomist for three years. At Certis he covers key fruit and vegetable areas in the West and is active with The Farmers Club, where he’s on the Under 30s committee.

Geoff says:

The future lies in producing high-quality crops safely and effectively through application technology and programmed approaches that use conventional and biorational products.

Morley Benson, Field Sales Manager

Morley works with some of Certis’s biggest customers. He builds and maintains relationships with key contacts, negotiates terms and agrees product forecasts, as well as supporting two Key Account Managers.

He also deals with external organisations such as AHDB Potatoes and has represented Certis on the CIPC Stewardship Group. Morley is particularly involved with biorational products and helped establish ferric phosphate as the market-leading molluscicide.

Morley’s commercial experience and technical product knowledge result from a strong agricultural background. He grew up on a 350-acre tenant farm and has a BSc in Agriculture from Cranfield University and a BASIS Diploma in Agriculture.

Morley says:

Times are uncertain but exciting. Technology and innovation will be increasingly important as we strive to feed more people on less land while respecting nature. ICM techniques aren’t new, but growers need to implement them more widely.

James Collingwood, Key Account Manager

James finds solutions for customers in fruit and vegetables, arable and potatoes, with a healthy dose of realism about what can be achieved.

His role is both commercial and technical, and he takes a proactive yet structured approach to finding better ways to do things.

James’s background is invaluable here. He comes from a farming family and, after graduating, gained early-career experience with a plant breeder and grain merchant. He has since achieved a BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection Qualification and Plant Protection Award.

James says:

Horticulture is vibrant. Yet new crops, novel technologies and emerging markets are threatened by a reducing crop protection toolbox and regulatory pressures. We must develop new ways of working focused on registered biorational products and sustainability.

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Regulatory

Dina Ganesan, Regulatory Affairs Officer – UK

Dina supports Certis’s regulatory efforts in the UK and Ireland.

Her work enables vegetable and fruit growers to protect a wide range of crops through new-product registrations, EAMUs (Extension of Authorisation for Minor Use) and derogations for use of existing products.

As well as managing registrations and product labels, Dina works closely with grower and industry organisations and regulatory bodies. These include AHDB, BORD BIA, PCS and CRD.

Dina has a Master’s degree in pharmacy – vital in understanding the relationship between chemical and physiological processes. Despite not coming from a farming background, she has a huge passion for food.

Dina says:

It’s a constantly-changing environment. With crop protection options fast reducing, I see major new opportunities for biorational products.

Sue Young, Regulatory Affairs Manager – Europe

Sue helps raise our scientific profile in fruit and vegetables through reviews and summaries, managing projects across many European markets and collaborating with bodies such as the CPA (Crop Protection Association).

She has significant knowledge of regulatory requirements at country and EU level – supported by two degrees in environmental science and experience at a trials company. With regulation being increasingly stringent, she regards gaining any new registration as a real achievement.

Sue says:

Regulatory hurdles for the UK may differ from those in the EU after Brexit. That’s a challenge for growers, advisors and manufacturers alike, but we’ll overcome them.

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Portfolio development

Ian Baxter, Portfolio Development Manager – Europe

Ian provides the ‘vision’ for the future of Certis’s fruit and vegetable products and, at the same time, helps ensure that programmes run smoothly.

He’s exceptionally qualified in developing biorationals. From farming stock, Ian has a PhD in Entomology which looked at minimising pesticides through the use of semiochemicals. He also has a deep interest in bees.

Ian cites as a major achievement getting the biorational Majestik (Eradicoat) accepted within growers’ programmes. Today, growers understand the need for early intervention with no- or low-residue products.

Despite being based in Holland, where he’s able to experience excellent growing facilities, Ian is a visiting scientist at Swansea University and supervises PhD students at Swansea and Harper Adams.

Ian says:

UK universities are generating some highly innovative intellectual property based on biorationals. There's growing expertise here that will become a huge asset.

Audun Midthassel, Research and Development Manager – Europe

Audun manages Certis’s early-stage biorational R&D. This involves screening and efficacy testing of new biological active substances and organisms, together with understanding their function, strengths, weaknesses and activity spectrum. He also has some involvement in formulation development.

With a PhD from Imperial College, Audun has always been interested in the biology of insects and fungi. He also has a developing passion for developing biorational crop solutions, in particular their origin and modes of action.

According to Audun, his major achievement is having set up a Biorational Research Centre for Certis Europe in France. Opened in 2015, BRC comprises a research lab, offices, controlled-environment room and an experimental greenhouse.

Audun says:

Increasing restriction on conventional products opens up opportunities for biorational products, but also presents challenges to make them work in outdoor crops. Automation and early detection with improved forecasting of pest and diseases may help.

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Business support

Rob Lucas, Customer Services Lead

Rob provides business information to various teams, including sales, marketing and general management, using finance and sales data drawn from Certis’s systems.

Working in finance and administration, Rob heads up a customer service and business analysis team. He has a degree in Computer Science and Philosophy, and is studying for CIMA, a management accounting qualification.

Rob says:

I see Certis changing the whole crop protection industry. My role lies in enabling the company to stay proactive through valuable business insight.

Verity Clarke, Administration Assistant

Verity’s job is to find new ways to improve the admin side of everyone’s day at Certis.

The company certainly helps keep her on her toes, working one week with sales and the next with marketing, for instance.

But then Verity is adaptable. She trained as a children’s nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital, but quickly got to grips with agricultural terminology and the detail of Certis’s products. What is more, she virtually created her office support role for the UK business.

Verity says:

I think our greatest challenge is people’s ever-changing opinions on crop protection and how these affect growers’ use of our products. We’re changing all that.

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