Meet Laura: strategist, shepherdess and chief baker

Meet Laura: strategist, shepherdess and chief baker

30th September 2021

What do you make happen at Scottish Agronomy?

I have a mixed role within Scottish Agronomy but basically, I manage the potato trials program from start to finish ensuring trials are carried out to the best possible standard and within all current guidelines.

The majority of my time is spent managing the potato trials on a day-to-day basis. This starts from liaising with clients over their requirements, preparing protocols, securing sites and seed ordering in early spring, followed by planting trials and growing crop assessments throughout the summer season. Lastly, harvesting the trials, grading yield digs, assessing skin finish and writing reports in the autumn/winter.

I’m also part of the combinable trials team where I’m involved with seed preparations, drilling, assessments, and mainly harvest where I am responsible for coordinating all grain sample requirements. With thousands of samples to process this requires a lot of organisation!

 

What’s the best part of the job?

Having a mixed role – no two days are the same. I also get to be out in the countryside – a 9-5 office job was never going to be for me. We are very lucky to have some of our trials in very scenic parts of Scotland.

I enjoy carrying out the trials to a high standard. Seeing new products come through from very early development work to becoming successful in the commercial market is also rewarding, knowing that our trials have played a part in its approval and success gives a great feeling.

 

What is your favourite time of year and why?

Harvest has always been my favourite time of year. It’s massively rewarding to see a growing year’s worth of work yield well and get a good result out of a trial. It gives me a great buzz to see something I’ve been responsible for do well. This wouldn’t be possible without the hard work the team puts in to the trials to ensure worthwhile results.

 

How did you get to where you are today?

I started at Scottish Agronomy as a harvest student over the summer of 2005. I enjoyed it so much I came back over the summer of 2006 after finishing a degree at Aberdeen University and didn’t leave! I’ve worked my way up over the years from student level, to Trials officer, to Senior Trials officer to now being Potato Trials Manager.

I had minimal knowledge of the arable side of agriculture having being brought up on a mainly livestock farm, but throughout my career at Scottish Agronomy I have had the opportunity to learn a great deal about both cereals and potatoes.

 

What, for you, makes Scottish Agronomy stand apart?

Scottish Agronomy stands apart because of the advice given is based on local independent trials. There is no sales motivation behind any recommendations. This, I feel, counts for a lot. Our members can trust in advice given and see years’ worth of trials evidence.

We also have the ability to run trials for our members on any relevant issues which makes it a great company to be a part of – our growers can come to the team with ideas and we could potentially plan trials from small plots up to field-scale experiments.

 

What has been the greatest highlight of your career so far?

Becoming Potato Trials Manager, having worked my way up from being a student. Trial numbers have increased over the years and we now run a diverse set of trials for many commercial clients covering a huge range of topics and issues.

The recent investment in a digital potato grader has been an exciting development this year and one that we hope improves our trials even more.

 

Tell us something that might surprise us about you

After spending my working week on the arable side of agriculture, my sheep flock at home are a great passion of mine. I’ve been lucky enough to build the flock from only a handful to now around 200 commercial and pure ewes.

I am also a keen baker and enjoy bringing in cakes for my colleagues! My first job was working in a local independent bakery, where I worked in both the shop serving customers and the bakehouse making the products. I was with this company from the age of 14 until I started at Scottish Agronomy.

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