Agrovista has appointed Karen Morgan to its fruit team, strengthening the company’s agronomy service in the South East and the Midlands. She brings a wealth of experience to the team, having worked as a soft-fruit agronomist in Kent for more than 24 years.
Karen, who started at Agrovista at the beginning of November, is a graduate of Reading University, where she gained an Honours Degree in horticulture in 1996. The four-year course included 12 months’ practical experience, half of which was spent at Edward Vinson Ltd, one of Kent’s best-known soft-fruit growers, sparking an interest that was to become Karen’s specialism.
“I’ve always been an outdoors person – I was never going to settle into a 9-5 office job,” says Karen. “After leaving university I joined the Fruit Advisory Services Team (FAST) in Faversham.”
Here she honed her soft-fruit advisory skills, staying with FAST for 24 years before leaving at the beginning of 2022.
“A few months later I received a call from Mark Davies, head of fruit at Agrovista, asking whether I’d be interested in joining the fruit team at Agrovista. I’m friends with Paul Bennett, who retired from Agrovista a few years ago, so I knew a bit about the company and agreed to join pretty much straight away.” Despite her considerable experience, Karen believes the new position offers plenty of opportunity. “I will be taking on some existing Agrovista customers and will also be developing new business. I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into things again. I think there will be plenty of opportunities coming that I shall embrace.”
Karen was involved in advising on biological control programmes in her previous job, so this was a big part of the attraction with Agrovista, which has a leading presence in the sector, pushing ahead with integrated crop management and forging key partnerships with manufacturers. “I recently took a trip to Rotterdam to visit Koppert, which was extremely interesting,” says Karen. “Biological controls are now a crucial component of pest control regimes on the majority of farms, partly driven by end users and partly by necessity, as the arsenal and efficacy of chemicals continues to reduce.”
Apart from loss of chemistry, growers face other major challenges including rising costs, challenging sales, and labour shortages. As such, good advice has probably never been more important. “My aim is to help growers manage their businesses as efficiently and as profitably as they can,” says Karen. “Soft-fruit is a very professional sector and growers are open to new thinking and new ideas, but they will challenge you as well. I’m looking forward to extending my knowledge further in the hope that I can deliver as much benefit as possible to existing and new customers alike.”
Mark Davies, Agrovista’s head of fruit, says: “Karen has hit the nail on the head. We are very aware of the challenges growers currently face, but we know that the good advice and the attention to detail we provide can help navigate such challenges. For us it is all about committing to add value wherever we can on-farm, and Karen has all the strengths and attributes to help the team achieve this goal. We were thrilled to have her join us, as good people are all too rare nowadays.”