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Latest News

Find out what's new in BASIS and our various schemes, and keep up to date with current industry developments. Or, select a date in the news archive to search through previous articles.

FACTS Fertiliser Qualification Updated to Align with RB209 Launch

FACTS from BASIS - the UK’s leading crop and grassland nutritional management qualification, has been updated and brought into alignment with the new RB209 guidelines launched by AHDB this summer. 

“Amendments have been made to the FACTS syllabus, to ensure exam papers are consistent with the new technical updates in RB209,” says Dr Ian Richards, FACTS nutrition consultant. 
Ian explains how some of the exam questions have changed. “Multiple choice questions take into account the new yield adjustment for cereal nitrogen recommendations. The ‘scenario papers’ model answers have also been amended to include the new manure phosphorus and potassium concentrations, as well as new nitrogen recommendations for malting barley – these are just some of the alterations. 
“FACTS trainers have been aware of the changes since this time last year, and our practical recommendations have been updated according to the latest research informing the new guide,” he says. 
Ian is a member of the steering group for RB209 and is positive about the launch. “There are plenty of improvements. The new guide has been broken down by sector, so FACTS qualified agronomists and advisors can use information that’s relevant to them.
“It’s now suitable for agronomists right through to fertiliser salesmen, and its downloadable – so can be accessed on phones and tablets,” adds Ian. 
When revising the guide, Ian worked closely with James Holmes, senior scientist for crop nutrition from AHDB, who is clear that being FACTS qualified and maintaining CPD is crucial for keeping up to date with legislation changes such as those in the new RB209. “The challenge was updating RB209 for the benefit of the industry, and work on improving courses for nutritional management will hopefully directly change farming practices for the better,” says James. 
To find out more about the FACTS qualification visit the BASIS website: www.BASIS-reg.co.uk .

VIDEO: Presentation by Peter Scott (FACTS & FAR)

This presentation was made by Peter Scott (Origin Fertilisers and member of the AIC Fertiliser sector Agriculture and Environment Committee) at a FACTS Management Committee meeting in Feb 2016.

The aim was to promote the adoption of integrated nutrient management planning on livestock farms through both crop nutrition and animal feeding advice (FACTS and FAR).

Summary of points made:

  • The feed and fertiliser industries need to be self-critical about whether the right and best job is being done for farmers
  • Nutrient planning is more than a tick box exercise
  • Fertilisers and feed management need integrating within one nutrient cycle
  • There is an urgent need for professional advisers to work more effectively together to improve nutrient management, and increase financial returns which, in turn, drives environment benefit.

Scheme changes unveiled – FACTS

The restructuring of the FACTS Scheme is nearly complete, although it will be some time before the changes are fully implemented.

In future, there will be two grades of membership. The well-established FACTS Qualified Adviser (FQA) grade remains. This is for those who regularly give crop nutrition advice on farms and holdings. FQA status is achieved by completion of the FACTS exam, then passing the Nutrient Management Planning (NMP) module and achieving the requisite CPD points each year.


The new grade is ‘FACTS Subscriber’ which is suited to those who do not give third party advice, which would include farmers who only make their own crop nutrition decisions.

“The new grade is a way for those with an involvement in crop nutrition that does not directly involve giving advice to access the FACTS information service which is a unique feature not offered by other professional development schemes,” says FACTS Committee Chairman Geoff Dodgson. “Overall, we have simplified the route to gaining FQA status and created a robust route to membership.


FQAs receive an identity card to satisfy the needs of assurance schemes where they give advice on farms. FACTS subscribers do not. Other changes will include a reduction in the permitted time between passing the FACTS examination and passing the NMP course and on-line test. “The changes will not come fully into force until 2016,” says Geoff.


“This is to ensure there is sufficient time for FACTS members, and particularly FACTS trainers, to understand and adapt to the changes.” Further details will be circulated to FACTS members in the near future.

Director of Soil and Water Management Centre appointed

Biosystems engineer, Professor Shane Ward, has been appointed as the first Director of the Soil and Water Management Centre at Harper Adams University.

Biosystems engineer, Professor Shane Ward, has been appointed as the first Director of the Soil and Water Management Centre at Harper Adams University. Professor Ward, who specialises in integrating engineering with life sciences, will also take up the newly-created role of Professor of Soil and Water at the university in Shropshire.

Having developed collaborative research programmes with industry and led several national and EU-funded projects, Professor Ward is well established within research and innovation.

He has been responsible for developing a number of centres of excellence at University College Dublin, including the Peat Technology Centre, the Bioresources Research Centre and BioE - which brings innovative new concepts from university research to the market.

Commenting on his new appointment, Professor Ward, previously Head of the School of Agriculture Food Science and Veterinary Medicine at University College Dublin, said: “Soil is the base resource for the agri-food and bioresource sector, and is fundamental to the sustainability of agri-food and bioresource production systems.

“Harper Adams University is ideally positioned to play a leading role in the national effort to address the requirements of modern agricultural production systems in respect to soil and water; and how to manage our soils within the context of on-going extreme weather events.

“The range of expertise within the university spans the complete spectrum, from soils to farm-gate and beyond; key areas include agricultural engineering, soil and vehicle interaction, soil management, precision agriculture, crop science, bio-energy, animal husbandry, agricultural economics and “smart system” applied to agri-food and bioresource production systems.

“The University has a 550 ha production and research farm, which enables it to evaluate and apply research at farm level. The Soil and Water Management Centre will facilitate staff at Harper Adams to undertake world-class research while also interacting with industry and the wider community.

“This is a flagship university-industry collaboration effort providing a national hub for the sector and facilitates the delivery of innovation on a scale necessary to address the national challenges in this domain.

“The UK can become a world leader in soil-water management systems, which is hugely important in the context of the increasing demands for high quality food, recent bad weather events and the need to reduce flooding risk and waterways pollution.”

The Soil and Water Management Centre aims to act as a national source of information and expertise, a forum for establishing improvement priorities and a focus for training and applied research.

Announcing the appointment, Professor Peter Mills, Harper Adams Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said: “Better appreciation of and care for our soil and water resources is crucial if we are to secure the sustainable improvements in farming and ecosystem efficiency we so clearly need. 

“We are delighted Professor Ward will be leading the national effort to achieve these through our Soil and Water Management Centre.  Widely respected, knowledgeable and experienced as he is, he’s the ideal person to take on this exciting role.”

The Centre was established by Harper Adams University in conjunction with industry partners - Agrii, BASIS, Challenger, The Coop Farms, GrowHow, Interagro,  Michelin, NRM, and Vaderstad, with support from The Rothschild Foundation.

Welcoming Professor Ward on behalf of the industry partners, Andrew Richards of Agrii, and Chairman of the Soil and Water Management Centre, said: “Since we first came together two years ago, the need for a dedicated  centre of applied soil and water management information, expertise and training has become more and more apparent to everyone, including Government. 

Professor Ward’s agricultural, biological systems and engineering expertise, his organisational experience and his enthusiasm and drive are just what we need at the sharp end of our work to help farmers across the UK address their current and future soil and water management challenges.”

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