The company was formed in 1974 by Richard Austin and aimed to provide advice and support to farms in the Lincolnshire area. The focus at that time was to assist farms by providing farm management support, financial advice and crop management guidance.
After a short while in business, the company expanded its services to the farming industry with the creation of a soil analysis laboratory. The laboratory came into being as the first UK commercial lab to offer Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) analysis alongside soil nutrient testing.
With the scope to provide both analytical services plus farm and cropping consultancy services, Richard Austin Agriculture became well known for managing numerous large farming enterprises and is credited with the introduction of commercially grown Maris Piper potatoes to Lincolnshire. This variety still dominates the planted area annually, today.
Today, the soil testing laboratory forms the core of the business and specialises in the niche area of PCN testing by microscopy by a skilled team of analysts. We analyse between 20-25,000 PCN soils annualy, representing well in excess of 30,000 Ha of potato growing land.
In 2011, Dr. John Keer joined the Richard Austin Agriculture team, bringing 30 years of professional experience and input into the agricultural industry to our company. John was first trained in the analysis of soil samples for PCN content by The Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF) in 1985 and has subsequently analysed over 100,000 soil samples from all parts of the UK. As our technical manager, John continues to enhance and develop the services available through our laboratory and works closely with the analytical team to guarantee that the best possible standards of soil analysis are being delivered to our customers with every sample analysed.
Subsequently, after several years of in-house research, development and investment, in 2019 we launched a significant addition to our range of PCN services with the introduction of a PCN speciation test by DNA diagnostic analysis.
In line with the guidance set out in the AHDB PCN Sampling & Laboratory guide (2018) advocating the importance of PCN species assessment in PCN-infested land, we are now primed to provide our customers with the most comprehensive and meaningful information possible from their soil analysis results to facilitate a targeted approach to their PCN management strategies and crop growing decisions.