Steeple Bumpstead
Agricultural Discussion Society

Established 1929

Newsletter July 1997

June 16th ......Summer Visit

Every summer we have one evening out to visit an agricultural establishment. This is often a farm but this year we went to Chesterford Park which is a research station owned by AgrEvo.

Chesterford Park is at the end of a long drive off the Saffron Walden to Stumps Cross road and most passing motorists probably do not even notice the AgrEvo sign by the side of the road. It is a beautiful research park with a large mansion and lake surrounded by many equally impressive modern buildings which house the various different departments. It must be a wonderful environment in which to work. The recent history of the park as a research station started in 1952 when the run-down estate was bought by Pest Control Ltd. for £18,000. Pest Control Ltd was later sold to Fisons to become Fisons Pest Control and Chesterford Park continued itís research. Fisons merged with Boots to form FBC which was in turn taken over by Schering. Schering has recently merged with Hoechst to create AgrEvo. Through this period of changing ownership the park has weathered the uncertain times and developed during the stable times to become a major employer in the area.

In the past they have developed insecticides and weed killers but under AgrEvo they are specialising in fungicides. We saw how any new product starts from a scientists dream through the thousands of experimental batches before an active compound is produced. Having got an active compound we then saw how it was tested in glasshouse trials before it was put into plot trials. We also learnt about all the safety studies that must be done before a pesticide is approved for use by farmers. It is awesome how much money and time is tied up in producing any new product and when you see what is involved it is not surprising that agro-chemicals are now produced by a small number of very large multinational companies.

Stephen Graves (Secretary)

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