Down to Earth Speakers

Wednesday July 3, 2024 | Grosvenor Farms, Aldford, Cheshire

David Craven

Dairy Manager at Grosvenor Farms

Speaker Bio

Born and raised in Chester, I came from a small family farm. After attending Reaseheath College, my first managerial position was in Devon, responsible for a 600 acre mixed arable and sheep farm.

I joined Grosvenor Farms in the late 80’s, as assistant to the potato manager, where the focus was Potato’s, arable and 7 dairy herds, spread over 5800 acres.

Through the 90’s and into the new millennium, the business invested into genetics, forming the company Cogent, replacing the potato enterprise, with a greater focus on dairy production. I was tasked to manage the building of the infra-structure, including the Bull stud and the transition from 7 dairy farms to 4 larger units.

In 2010 I lead a small team to research, design and ultimately create a new facility, seeing the creation of Lea Manor Farm opening in 2014.

In 2015 I was promoted to dairy manager, responsible for increasing numbers from 1400 cows to the current numbers of 2600.

I was on AHDB’s dairy sector council between 2018 and 2024. I currently sit on the Genetics advisory forum.

I am passionate about rugby and I am a member of Chester rugby club, previously being First team head coach, Director of rugby and now sitting on their executive committee.  

Charlie Steer

Arable Manager at Grosvenor Farms

Speaker Bio

Charlie grew up on his family’s small farm in East Cheshire which his parents ran alongside their professional careers. Charlie studied agriculture at The University of Reading and graduated in 2010.

He is now the arable manager for Grosvenor Farms LTD. He is responsible for the management of the combinable and forage cropping on the farm, agronomy, staff, machinery, and nutrient management; in short, all the farming operations involved in growing combinable crops and at each ‘end’ of the cows on the 3,500 head dairy enterprise. In addition, twelve percent of the farms area is now managed by Charlie and his team for environmental enhancement under various stewardship schemes.

Charlie is a 2019 Nuffield farming Scholar, the title of which is ‘The Circular Farm, Minimising input for maximum output in a mixed farming system”. As a result of travelling the world exploring circular economy solution for agriculture has resulted in the current development of a 60 Million KWh gas to grid AD project at Grosvenor Farms.

Mark Roach

Managing Director, Grosvenor Farms

Speaker Bio

Mark was awarded a BSc (Hons), Agricultural Economics by the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth in 1981 and has since successfully completed a range of professional qualifications including BASIS and FACTS. 

His early career included experience in the agricultural supply trade with ICI and agricultural consultancy with ADAS in Devon and the East Midlands. 

From 1998 he has been Managing Director of Grosvenor Farms Ltd, Cheshire, a large-scale mixed farming business, part of the Duke of Westminster’s Eaton Estate covering 11,000 acres. The main operations are 2650 dairy cows, 1800 dairy heifers, 3700 acres combinable crops, 1000 acres forage maize, 500 acres grassland and 500 acres stewardship. About 12% of the land is managed under environmental schemes providing enhanced biodiversity and wildlife habitats. Mark was Executive Director of Cogent Breeding Ltd from 1998-2004 and MD from 2016 to 2019 and is currently Non-Executive Chairman of Cogent.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society of England; a member of the Dairy Science Forum; a trustee of The Dairy Futures Charity; a partner in a large US dairy farming business; a former Governor of Harper Adams University; a past Trustee of the RABDF and a former chairman of the 1000 Cow Club. He is a non-executive director of Tatra Forest Slovakia, a 5000 acre organic farm producing milk, cheese, herbs and berries.

Outside work Mark enjoys playing/watching golf, cricket and rugby.

Adrian Packington

Bovaer Project

Speaker Bio

Adrian Packington is an independent nutrition consultant and a specialist in ruminant nutrition, with particular emphasis on sustainability. His current projects focus on reducing the carbon footprint of milk production in partnership with dairy processors and retailers.

Previously, he worked in the animal nutrition industry for over 30 years in technical, commercial, and research roles. He has co-authored research publications including studies on biotin supplementation of dairy cows, and the impact of lameness on milk production. More recently, his focus is dairy cow emissions and practical solutions to implement innovative new technologies.

Richard Collins

Head of Agriculture, Muller Milk & Ingredients

Speaker Bio

From a family with generations of rich history in the industry, Richard has worked in dairy for almost 25 years. He’s held various operational and managerial positions, joining Müller as part of the Dairy Crest acquisition in 2016 and taking on the role of Head of Agriculture in 2019.  

He oversees the supply and quality of milk from 1,300 farms across different retail accounts, and was responsible for the development and introduction of the Müller Advantage programme which aims to improve sustainability and profitability for Müller’s supplying farms.  

Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, all of whom are avid swimmers. He also owns, shows, and drives two Shire horses during the summer months. 

Thomas Atkins

Agricultural Manager, Dairy & Beef, Tesco

Speaker Bio

Edward Earnshaw

Just Farm

Speaker Bio

From farming with his father in Leicestershire and Gloucestershire, Edward was inspired to form Just Farm to help farmers maximise both a practical approach and profitable income, through the evolving Defra grant schemes.

A Graduate of Newcastle University, in Agri-Business Management, in 2009 Edward invested a few years working in Agriculture in Hungary, Ukraine and Australia before returning to the family farm in 2015.  Soon thereafter Edward and his father entered a simple and profitable Stewardship Agreement to reduce part of the workload and increase profitably.

Seeing the direct benefits to the bottom line, he attracted attention in benchmarking meetings once he started helping others with grant applications.

Just Farm is now a small but professional team, covering England and working with farmers get the best outcomes from available Defra grants from the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme.  Additionally, site specific Higher Tier Stewardship Projects. After successfully applying for a Round 1 Landscape Recovery Project, Edward continues to be involved in the early stages of blended finance Agri-Environment schemes.

Emma McAvoy

Consultant at Kite Consulting

Speaker Bio

Emma has worked as a consultant since graduating from Harper Adams University in 2019 with a degree in Agri-Business. Emma joined Kite in 2022 and is part of the Sustainability team, based in the South West, working across the UK. Key areas of work involve carbon reduction strategies along with planning for environmental compliance.

Dr Anna Sutcliffe

Ruminant Technical Manager at AB Dairy

Speaker Bio

With dairy farming experience as a teenager, Anna’s interest in ruminant nutrition led to a degree in Animal Science from Edinburgh University, followed by a PhD from Nottingham University investigating the dynamics of rumen function and the impact of designing rations that synchronised energy and protein supply to the rumen microbiome on cow productivity. Following a stint as research and development manager for a national feed manufacturer, and a brief move to the pharmaceutical industry, Anna has been Ruminant Technical Manager at KW Feeds for 9 years. Based in Yorkshire, she provides nutritional support and advice to dairy farmer customers.

David Christensen

Dairy & Beef Farmer

Speaker Bio

David runs Kingston Hill Farm Ltd, his family-owned farming company operating dairy and beef farming enterprises in the Thames Valley some 10 miles to the west of Oxford. After graduating from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1990 he spent 9 months milking cows in New Zealand before joining the family business which farms 1600 acres of rented land on which 950 cows are milked and up to a further 1300 cattle are reared. He is a former chairman of the Maize Growers Association, has been a director of the Orion Farming Group (a farm input buying group), was a farmer director of Milk Link and is now a member of the Board of Representatives for Arla. He sits on the South East Regional Advisory Board for the NFU Mutual and chaired the Midland and Regional Board from 2017 to 2022. He has recently finishes acting as an advisor to Reading University for the National Institute for Research into Dairying Trust.

David is a Trustee of the Oxfordshire Agricultural Society Trust, a charity which gives financial assistance for training and development to young people living in Oxfordshire and engaged in the agricultural sector. He is married to Catherine and they have three children, Thomas age 26, Matthew age 22 and Nancy age 17. In any spare time left after the above he acts as an unpaid taxi driver for his daughter and suffers the emotional rollercoaster of being a Gloucester Rugby fan.

Dr Felicity Crotty

Principal Consultant Agriculture and Land and BGS Trustee

Speaker Bio

Dr Felicity Crotty joined Ricardo Energy and Environment as a Principal Consultant in November 2023, having previously been a Senior Lecturer in Soil Science and Ecology at the Royal Agricultural University. She has over 17 years’ experience in agroecology and soil science. Over this time, she has been working with the aim of promoting soil health and sustainable agriculture and has been particularly interested in how land management has impacted soil quality focusing on soil biology (earthworms, springtails, mites and nematodes), and also physics (compaction and water infiltration) and chemistry (NPK and other nutrients). Through combining her expertise in all three areas of soil science she is trying to disentangle the real impact different management strategies have on soil health and sustainability. Much of her work has been within agriculture (both arable and livestock systems) but has also included some work on nature reserves, urban areas and land conflict.

Charlie Bowyer

Business Development Manager, Agri-Tech Centre

Speaker Bio

Charlie Bowyer is Business Development Manager for Livestock and Aquaculture for the UK Agri-Tech Centre. Having grown up on the mixed family farm in the lower Usk valley, Charlie has worked with beef cattle and sheep from a very young age. Charlie attended Harper Adams University and graduated with a degree in agriculture in 2015, before he went on to work in the anaerobic digestion industry for 6 years, an industry which remains a keen interest of his. Before joining the UKATC in 2022, he also spent time working in forage and silage sales and consultancy.

Sion Parry


Speaker Bio

Dr Jody Edmunds


Speaker Bio

I am a professional in the fields of animal science and genetics. My academic journey began with an undergraduate degree in Equine Science, followed by a Master’s degree in Animal Science from Aberystwyth University. Seeking to deepen my understanding, I pursued a Ph.D. from Cardiff University, specializing in livestock genetics and focusing on genes and markers associated with maternal ability in Lleyn sheep. Funding allowed me to conduct research in Milan, Italy to refine my expertise in programming for statistical genetics and bioinformatics, with a particular emphasis on genomic imputation in dairy cattle.

Presently, I hold the position of Genetic Services Manager and Data Scientist at Cogent Breeding, where I lead a skilled team responsible for genomic sample submission, processing, and data management. Additionally, I drive research initiatives across the breadth of our genetics team, spanning both beef and dairy sectors. My commitment to excellence and innovation in animal breeding genetics fuels my contributions to the industry. I am passionate about the potential for breeding resilient, productive, and sustainable genetics in animal breeding, all while improving welfare and maintaining species integrity to meet the demands and challenges of today and tomorrow.

Trisha Troop

Delivery Director, UK Agri-Tech Centre

Speaker Bio

John Gilliland

Special Advisor for AHDB and QMS

Speaker Bio

A special advisor to the UK’s Agriculture Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and to Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), John Gilliland, is a willow and livestock farmer from N. Ireland, whose farm has independently been verified to be “Beyond” Net Zero, today. He is also the Professor of Practice in Agriculture and Sustainability at Queens University Belfast; and chair of the innovative, EIP-Agri funded, farmer led, carbon farming project, ARC Zero,

John chaired the writing of the N. Ireland Sustainable Land Management Strategy which led to the creation of N. Ireland’s Soil Nutrient Health and LiDAR Scheme, which is a World first and an investment of £38m to baseline all fields’ soil, trees and hedges in N. Ireland.

For the last six years, John has helped shape the climate smart farming journey that the Grosvenor Farms Estate has been on.