Strategic Advisory Board

Our Strategic Advisory Board consists of experts from science, business, campaigning, economics and farming. They contribute their varied knowledge and perspectives on soils and soil health by providing strategic input and guidance into our activities with specific focus on the three workstreams and other key initiatives.

Dr Kevin Austin (Observer status)

Dep. Director Agriculture, Fisheries & the Natural Environment, Environment Agency

Kevin leads the agriculture, fisheries, biodiversity, ecology & geomorphology work of the Environment Agency to secure more resilient, diverse and valued wildlife and fisheries in order to bring greater benefits for people. He is the national Head of Profession, managing seven teams and the national budgets for these areas. He also acts as the Agency's lead on the DEFRA post-Brexit Future Farming Programme and the England Fisheries Group.

He was previously Assistant Director of the Agricultural Division and Head of Sustainable Management for the Welsh Government.

Vicki Hird

Farm Campaign Coordinator, Sustain

An award-winning author, strategist and campaigner working on farm policy, environment and food issues for 25 years, Vicki was previously Campaigns & Policy Director at War on Want, Head of the Friends of the Earth Food Programme, Sustain’s Policy Director and Director of the SAFE Alliance.

She published Perfectly Safe to Eat? in 2000 and was Chair of the Eating Better Alliance. With a background in entomology and pest management as well as decades in driving policy change Vicki will be able to bring both scientific and policy expertise to help the Alliance’ work.

Stephen Briggs

Soil & Water Manager, Innovation for Agriculture

Stephen has provided farm business consultancy in the UK and internationally for over 20 years, and has actively influenced agricultural policy at UK / EU levels. He has a masters in Soil Science, was a 2011 Nuffield Farming Scholar and was Founding Director of the Institute of Organic Training & Advice.

Building soil health & resilience to maintain biodiversity and productive potential should be at the forefront of the minds of farmers and land managers. Stephen’s combination of scientific rigour and practical farming experience helps direct the SSA to facilitate and deliver an improved understanding of practical soil management options.

Sue Pritchard

Sue runs an organic, permaculture livestock farm in Wales, and is also Director of the FFCC, an independent inquiry that aimed to shape a future for food, farming and the countryside that is fairer, stands the test of time and aligns more closely with public expectations and values. The SSA is partnering with the FFCC on research into improving soil fertility on Lincolnshire farms.

In light of the 25 YEP, our priority for achieving soil recovery is to involve farmers, businesses, citizens and communities in more thoughtful, informed conversations about choices that face us and the actions we urgently need to take.

Charlotte Russell

Head of Learning, Eden Project International

With a background in agriculture and forestry, Charlotte has been a commercial-scale organic farmer for more than thirty years. She has been Head of Learning at Eden for nearly 10 years, with experience and background in environmental education, agriculture and food policy.

The Eden Project is passionate about soil and its crucial role in maintaining life on the planet. Through their work on climate change and connection and communication with global audiences, the organisation hopes to tell the stories, actively support and give voice to the vital work of the SSA.

John Cherry

Director, Groundswell Agriculture; no-till farmer

John founded the annual Groundswell show which began with 700 attendees and has doubled in 3 years. He is a passionate practitioner and supporter of no-till from his home farm base of 2500 acres in Herts. He aims to establish an agronomy label to educate and train farmers in regenerative farming to facilitate a move away from intensive agriculture & the industrial food system.

I’ve always been interested in soil, which in the end is the most important thing about farming. To see someone farming without moving the soil is mind-blowing.

Prof. Chris Collins

Coordinator, NERC Soil Security Programme

Chris coordinates the SSP, a £multi-million research project to understand how soils resist, recover and adapt to land use and climate change, and is Professor of Environmental Science at Reading University.

Chris also sits on the government’s Natural Capital Committee. He is on the Board of Linking Environment & Farming and Director of the Soil Research Centre, bringing together researchers with external stakeholders to explore challenges around soil as a key resource. He is Chair of the SSA Science Panel.

Dr. Elizabeth Stockdale

Head, Farming Systems Research, NIAB

Elizabeth is a researcher and sharer of soils knowledge with growers – and hence is often found in a hole in the ground. She is currently Head of Farming Systems Research at NIAB and leads the cross-sector levy-funded Soil Biology & Soil Health Partnership (AHDB/BBRO; 2017-2021). This Partnership is working with and for the agricultural industry to develop practical tools for soil health assessment and supporting information for farmers to use to develop site-specific soil management approaches.

Bringing together the knowledge of research into the detailed interactions within the soil together with the practical husbandry skills and local knowledge of farmers can lead to amazing breakthroughs in the our understanding of the ecosystems beneath our feet. I’m looking forward to working with the SSA to help ensure that all stakeholders develop an enhanced understanding of soils’ value and functions and look to work in ways that ensure all land is managed sustainably.

Gareth Morgan

Head, Farming & Land Use Policy, Soil Association

Gareth joined the Soil Association after many years at the RSPB as Head of Agriculture Policy and External Affairs. Prior to this he served as Senior Agriculture Policy Officer for Natural England.

It’s no surprise that the work of the Sustainable Soils Alliance is of great interest to the Soil Association which has its roots in the idea that truly sustainable farming starts with an understanding of the central role of soil. My own background lies in environmental policy and before that biochemistry, and I recently joined the Soil Association as Head of Farming and Land Use policy because I think a recovery in the UK’s biodiversity can only come with a transformation in what we eat and the way we produce it. I’ll be working with the SSA to ensure that soil health is properly reflected in government environment policy, and good soil management is provided with the right incentives and support.

Andrew Voysey

Head, Business & Government Solutions, Soil Capital

Andrew works with food and agriculture brands, financial institutions and governments to help them enjoy the business benefits of the transition to regenerative agriculture at scale across the value chain and build a market that values these practices, as part of Soil Capital.

Andrew brings his experience of the superior economics of practices that improve soil health, and how to make those benefits accessible to brands, financiers and governments, into the SSA's work.

Prior to this, Andrew led the sustainable finance practice at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership for 10 years, where he remains a Senior Associate.

Alex Adam

Water Stewardship Manager, The Rivers Trust

Alex works for The River Trust where he is leading on the development of a new Water Stewardship service, which aims to help business work collaboratively to deliver sustainable solutions for water at a catchment level by working with their local catchment partnerships and is the UK lead for the Courtauld 2025 commitment for collective action on water.

Alex is a member of the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) national support group, the CISL Catchment Declaration advisory group, an Alliance for Water Stewardship expert practitioner and member of the BSI technical committee for water management, he is also a Town Councillor.

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The SSA is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. We decided not to set up a charity because that would limit some activities such as campaigning on government policies. With a not-for-profit company the directors don’t benefit from profits and money raised is spent on company aims.