British Ornamentals Association Conference 2024 – Exploring Opportunities for the Future of Horticulture


The British Ornamentals Association Conference is back for 2024! Taking place on Wednesday 31st January at the NFU Conference Centre, Stoneleigh with a pre-conference dinner at the nearby Woodland Grange Hotel on Tuesday 30th January. See the speaker line up as below.

BOA Members receive a reduced ticket price. Please contact for your discount code. Please note, discounts cannot be applied after your order has been placed. The Early Bird ticket offer ends on 4 January 2024 – don’t miss out!

Get your tickets here!


Michael Smith

Michael is the 3rd generation of W. D. Smith & Son family business based at Wickford in Essex. The nursery has been growing seasonal colour and veg for over 80 years.

Michael is also chair of the group managing Peter Seabrook’s garden ‘Floral Fantasia’ at RHS Hyde Hall.

Joanna McTigue

Jo is a crop protection scientist at Horticulture Crop Protection Ltd and focuses on ornamental crops, protected vining crops and mushrooms. Jo also specialises in worker exposure risk assessment and manages the crop association risk registers to ensure that the main priorities are recognised for each crop group.

Martin Emmett

Martin Emmett, Horticulture Board Chairman Binsted Nursery Barnham, West Sussex May 12, 2022. Credit: John Cottle / NFU

Martin is Strategy Director at Tristram Plants (Farplants Group) and has actively represented the industry for many years in organisations such as the HTA, AHDB and the Environmental Horticulture Group (formerly the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group). He currently chairs the NFU Board for Horticulture and Potatoes which has been active in developing a Growth Strategy for the entire production horticulture sector. Alongside his industry roles, he lectures at RGB Kew and RHS Wisley and was previously a part time academic at Reading University. He is a Trustee of the LSA Charitable Trust and was responsible for setting up their Fellowship Program.

Neil Bragg

Neil is a Soil Scientist, working in the Horticultural sector for 40 years. His main areas of interest include Plant Nutrition, Fertigation and development of new substrates – particularly as we move towards peat-free mixes.

With Ann McCann of Bulrush Horticulture, Neil developed the Poinsettia Monitoring scheme which has now been running since 1998 and has a massive accumulation of analytical results for both Substrates and plant tissue.

Steve Harper

Steve has had a 25-year career in the growing media industry. Throughout his career, he has built industry expertise working with prominent peat and peat-free growing media manufacturers. Steve has played a pivotal role in using green compost as a growing media substrate and produced the first peat-free consumer compost to outperform peat in the Which? magazine growing trials in 2009.

Currently, Steve is CEO of Southern Trident a coir and peat-free company, the world’s only carbon-neutral growing media manufacturer, and holds the position of Chair of the Responsible Sourcing Scheme, where he promotes sustainable practices and ensures ethical sourcing in the growing media sector.

Julian Davis

Julian is an agronomist specialising in glasshouse and field crops. He was involved in setting up Stockbridge Technology Centre, an industry owned applied contract research and development company in 2001 and has been a Director since 2020. He is very commercially focused and heads a small team of applied researchers.

Julian has in depth knowledge across horticulture and carries out commercially funded projects for a range of clients in the UK, Europe and America. The projects cover growing media, performance testing of agrochemicals, crop safety studies to support data packages submitted to Pesticide Regulators, improving sustainability of crop production, testing novel fertilisers and biostimulants.

He has been running various education projects including a business and enterprise project with local primary schools and healthy eating/growing projects.

He has been a Director of Biovale, a Board member of a local college and a member of the Pesticide Residues in Food Committee.

Eirinn Rusbridge

Eirinn Rusbridge has an undergraduate degree in Physics and a postgraduate degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Southampton. Currently working as a Senior Project Engineer at NFU Energy, he has 6 years of professional experience in assessing the feasibility of renewable energy systems, as well as 5 years of experience in conducting energy audits, carbon reporting, and general energy consultancy across the agricultural and horticultural sectors.

Since starting at NFU Energy in 2018, Eirinn has been involved in the delivery of Growsave, a knowledge sharing platform developed for protected horticulture, with a focus on improving energy efficiency and sustainability in greenhouses, which has historically been funded by AHDB. He is now the Technical Lead for this programme and has expertise in the processes and energy requirements of this sector.

Jonathan Scurlock

Since 2007, Dr Jonathan Scurlock FRSA has led on analysis and advice about energy, climate change and net zero to the NFU’s management, office holders and members. His background is in university and government research, covering energy and climate policy, plant physiology, bioenergy and other renewables. He was educated at Oxford and London, and is a Visiting Fellow at the Open University.

Mark Sait

Mark is described as an experienced entrepreneur and CEO with significant experience in creating and leading businesses which move new technologies into the mainstream, through changing behaviour, redefining traditional business approaches and models. He has applied this to sectors including Healthcare, Telecoms, Digital Media and now Sustainability / Carbon reduction.  Gaining a wealth of hands-on experience in roles around the world, linked to the challenges & opportunities that businesses have across all disciplines – Strategy, People, Execution & Investment, having lead businesses through start up, growth & ultimately to scale. This experience is combined with a strong and energetic leader style. Mark is an alumnus of the Unreasonable Impact global CEO network.

SaveMoneyCutCarbon is his latest venture.  The company has enjoyed rapid growth & is now recognised in the mainstream media as the UK’s leading platform for Money Saving through Sustainability.

He is known as one of the go-to people for commentary on topics including sustainability, NetZero, the Energy crisis and regularly contributes in the media including BBC TV & radio, GM News, The Times, Daily Mail, Forbes & many other print / online media.

Marcel Hubers

With a Bachelor degree in horticulture, Marcel started in 1996 as a specialist in biological controls, advising vegetable and ornamental growers on their integrated pest management (IPM) strategies.

In 2003, he joined Syngenta Crop Protection in the Netherlands as a crop advisor for horticultural crops, advancing to portfolio manager for ornamentals, putting his knowledge and experience into practice even further.

In his current role as Technical Service Manager Ornamental Controls EAME & Sustainability Lead, he not only supports Syngenta’s portfolio across the region, but focuses on optimising tools for growers, allowing more comprehensive control of pests and diseases. This is achieved through his knowledge of biology, products, adjuvants, application technology and understanding the industry. His strong belief is that the challenges growers are facing now require a different approach, application technology is an important tool that has yet to evolve with the changes of production systems and crop protection solutions. With these two aligning, the industry will be in an even stronger position. 

David May

David May is Deputy Director of Lincoln Institute of Agri-Food Technology (LIAT) and an advisor to a number of start-ups within the food and Agri sector. He is an agronomist by training having studied Horticulture at the University of Reading (BSc Hons) and worked for ADAS as a BASIS trained crop advisor, specialising in protected ornamentals.  He has over 30 years’ experience working within the food and ornamentals supply chain, including more than 20 years at Tesco, including as Category Technical Manager for Horticulture.

Sarah Want

Sarah has been with MorePeople nearly 5 years now, and instantly developed an interest in the horticulture industry. She ended specialising on roles within Hort including growers, agronomists, technical sales reps, plant area managers and more. She is NVQ Level 3 qualified in Recruitment and loves nothing more than chatting to people in the industry to not only develop her own knowledge, but also help them.

As well as the day to day, Sarah regularly attends trade shows, hold talks at colleges, contributes to panel discussions and features on podcasts promoting the industry.

Sarah is an active member of the YPHA Committee which focuses on uniting under 35’s in Horticulture, which is something she’s incredibly passionate about.

Martin de la Harpe

Martin has 25 years’ experience in developing standards in horticultural supply chains after completing a MSc in Plant Biotechnology at Wye College and a post graduate diploma in Plant and Soil Analysis at Wageningen Agricultural University. Initially, working in tea and coffee in Malawi and Kenya, and then from 1997 has been working in floriculture supply chain in technical and ethical standards and human rights due diligence. Martin’s most recent role was Head of Sustainability for Flamingo Horticulture.

Order of play subject to change.

This year’s conference is kindly sponsored by: