14 September 2021

Managing soils for survival

Organised by:

SCI’s Agrisciences group, British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) and Crop Health and Protection (CHAP)

Online webinar 14.00 – 15.30 BST

Registration Closed

This event is no longer available for registration.


Soil forms a core component of natural environments and ecosystems globally, being the basis for humans and many other lifeforms existence. Often viewed as a lifeless substrate, it performs a multitude of key functions and services such as; food production, carbon sequestration, maintaining biodiversity and nutrient cycling, to name just a few.
However, these roles can be negatively impacted by damaging practices, leading to a loss of purpose and function.

To prevent and reverse these it is important to examine some key questions.
What has gone wrong? How can we fix it? Who are the major players who influence this? 

This event is for anyone interested in the future management of soils, from farmers and advisors, soil scientists and students, to politicians and government advisors. 

Dr Alex McCormack


Alex builds CHAP’s network of academic and research partners, supports research projects, scans the horizon for new technologies, and is a key contact for scientific/technical enquiries. With a background in Agriculture spanning work on farms, in industry, and in crop protection R&D roles, he understands the problems that face the sector and their potential solutions. This experience is underpinned by his BSc (Hons.) in Crop Management and later PhD from Harper Adams University, alongside research roles at the University of Warwick on Innovate UK and AHDB sponsored projects

Dr Claudio Screpanti


Claudio Screpanti is an agronomist working in Syngenta R&D organization in Switzerland. He has several years of experience in agricultural research. He obtained his PhD in agronomy from the University of Bologna, Italy in 2003. Claudio joined the Syngenta R&D organization, covering different scientific roles always in relation to soil biology. In 2018 he became a Syngenta Fellow, a company award recognizing outstanding scientific achievements. In his current role, Claudio leads the Soil Health Centre in Stein (Switzerland) and acts as Syngenta soil expert looking at the behavior and effects of new small molecules in the soil-crop systems. The aim is to support the discovery and development of new and more sustainable crop protection solutions.

Jake Freestone

Overbury Farms

Between 1999 and 2003 Jake worked for Velcourt as a Farm Manager, in Kent, Gloucestershire and Lincolnshire before moving to Overbury Farms in 2003. Farm enterprises managed included; dairy, sheep, arable, potatoes and sugar beet.

In 2011 Jake spoke at the Sainsbury’s ‘Farming for the Future’ Conference and in March 2012 gave a presentation at the Precision Farming Conference. In October 2012 Jake was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship, to study the possibilities of growing 20T/ha of wheat in a sustainable farming system following the principles of LEAF’s integrated farm management.

Prof Jane Rickson

Cranfield University

Jane Rickson is Professor of Soil Erosion and Conservation at Cranfield University. She has over 30 years’ experience of research, consultancy and teaching in soil and water engineering, specialising in soil degradation and sustainable land management. Her work has focused on better understanding of soil functions and their role in delivering ecosystems goods and services, including agricultural production, water regulation and carbon storage. Jane was part of the Cranfield team that won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for research and education in large-scale soil and environmental data for the sustainable use of natural resources in the UK and worldwide. Her work includes research and consultancy for Government and industry, and she is involved in teaching on postgraduate courses in Land Reclamation and Restoration, Environmental Engineering and Soil Management. Professor Rickson was the first female President of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers in its 80-year history. Jane is a Chartered Environmentalist, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the Institute of Professional Soil Scientists.

Laura Weatherhead


Laura Weatherhead is Applications Team Leader at Croda in their Crop Protection division. Laura studied Chemistry at the University of Sheffield before joining Croda, where she has since specialised in agrochemical formulation for over ten years. In her role she is responsible for leading product range expansions in adjuvancy and co-formulants to enhance the performance of agrochemical active ingredients in turn improving crop yield. Laura has been instrumental in designing and validating protected chemistries that can deliver a sustainable solution to market requirements.


Tuesday 14 September

Welcome and introduction
chaired by Prof Jane Rickson, Cranfield University
The Mindful Chemist: Developing Soil Applied Adjuvants for Agriculture
Laura Weatherhead, Croda
Chemical Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture by Investing in Soil Health
Dr Claudio Screpanti, Syngenta
Regenerative Agriculture in Practice for more Resilient Soils
Jake Freestone, Overbury Farms
New frontiers in soils research
Dr Alex McCormack, CHAP
Q&A and discussion

Booking Process/Deadlines

Booking terms and conditions



For further information and prices, please email conferences@soci.org

Organising Committee
  • Liliya Serazetdinova, SCI/ Earlham Institute
  • Kathryn Knight, SCI/ Croda
  • James Garratt, SCI and BSSS/ Enviresearch
  • Robin Blake, SCI/ Compliance Services International
  • Alexander McCormack, CHAP

Conference Team

Tel: +44 (0)20 7598 1561

Email: conferences@soci.org