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Dr Bill Watts to Work with Potato Industry in Wales and the West

18 October 2018

Bill Watts has joined AHDB as Arable Knowledge Exchange Manager (Potatoes) for the West Midlands, South West and Wales.

Having recently completed his PhD, Bill has extensive research experience in crop management and is a specialist in potato cyst nematode (PCN) control, which is attributable to in excess of £25 million in losses to the industry each year.

Bill has been a regular presenter at Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm West events since 2016, making him a familiar face to a number of growers and other industry members in the West Midlands.

Knowledge Exchange (KE) Managers are the first point of contact for farmers, growers and those in the supply chain who are looking to access the array of services and tools funded by their levy.

After such a challenging season, and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, knowledge exchange has become ever more important in ensuring the industry is informed and reactive to change.

Bill said: “I’m looking forward to developing farm demonstrations and using events such as the strategic potato farms to generate discussion and promote new ideas. My best research findings were those that could be readily adopted on farm for the immediate benefit of farm businesses, which is what the SPot program champions.”

This summer AHDB announced that the Potatoes and Cereals and Oilseeds KE teams have combined, bringing together a wide range of resources and expertise into one group.

Graham Bannister, Senior Knowledge Exchange Manager, says that the newly united Arable KE team provides a greater depth of knowledge and resource.

“The new appointment and our collaboration with colleagues across the arable sector has broadened our knowledge base and enhanced our discussions of best practice with growers. Bill is well versed in this area through the work he’s already done with farms in the region.”

Graham believes that Bill will deliver a breadth of cutting-edge and scientific expertise to the area, and provide growers and the industry with the information they need to make it through such challenging times.

“Many growers will know Bill from his previous work on the biofumigation of PCN and his involvement in PCN tolerance and resistance work.  Along with his technical knowledge he brings a real enthusiasm for the potato sector and for engaging with the whole industry,” Graham added.

AHDB has recently released a guide to sampling and testing for PCN, and is currently updating the PCN Calculator, which can be accessed via the AHDB website. 

- Ends -

Notes to editors

More information on Bill's background can be found here and to view AHDBs new guide on PCN management please view the following

AHDB is a statutory levy board, funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain. Our purpose is to inspire our farmers, growers and industry to succeed in a rapidly changing world. We equip the industry with easy to use, practical know-how which they can apply straight away to make better decisions and improve their performance. Established in 2008 and classified as a Non-Departmental Public Body, it supports the following industries: meat and livestock (cattle, sheep and pigs) in England; horticulture, milk and potatoes in Great Britain; and cereals and oilseeds in the UK. AHDB’s remit covers 72 per cent of total UK agricultural output. Further information on AHDB can be found at


For further information contact Jimmy Phillips Marcomms Senior Marketing Manager (AHDB Potatoes) on 024 7647 8933 or

For out of hours enquiries,call AHDB press office on 024 7647 8800 or email



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