Andrew Lazenby is the new chief executive of the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) and its Innovation for Agriculture (IfA) initiative in collaboration with a group of regional agricultural societies. He succeeds David Gardner who relinquishes the role in he has held since 2012 in early May.

Mr Lazenby was most recently director of operations at Farmcare, the corporate farming business bought by the Wellcome Trust from long-term owner the Co-operative Group in 2014, but now to be broken up.  He joined in 2015 as strategic lead for operations over the business’ 17,500 hectares across 111 UK farms.

Before that, Mr Lazenby was head of commercial at the Leckford Estate, the Waitrose farm within the John Lewis Partnership, where he led a project to design and install a rapeseed oil factory which now produces 1 million bottles of oil each year. He was also vice -chairman of Hampshire Fare, the UK’s largest local and regional food marketing organization. Earlier in his career, he worked for the Chitty Group red meat wholesaling business and the Vitacress operation supplying salads and potatoes to supermarket retailers.

‘’I’m very excited to be joining the RASE and IfA in an era which will be recorded as the biggest period of change in UK farming for 80 years,” says Mr Lazenby. “There are huge opportunities in every aspect of farming practice, from future technologies including robotics and automation to widespread adoption of big data.  Combined with the soil restorative benefits of mixed farming and likely enforced reductions in agrochemical use, this is truly a time of significant opportunities.

“I see Innovation for Agriculture and its partner societies as the best placed educator, commentator and influencer in the sector. The opportunity to help shape the future in UK Agriculture, which is unique in its structure and mix of primary farming and corporate, social, wildlife and scientific elements, really is once in a lifetime.’’