Meet the Scientist - Dr John Bailey

Date published: 15 March 2017

Area of Expertise:

My job title is Acting Head of Agri-Environment Branch (AEB), in SAFSD which I have been doing since 20th June 2016. The exciting and strategic parts of my job are leading and directing the science programme within AEB, and raising our profile at local, national and international levels.

I also have the privilege of managing an excellent group of Project Leaders and scientific staff with the dual goal of delivering branch business objectives and staff career aspirations. Finally, an appreciable amount of my time is devoted to managing branch finances, budgets, and resources, all of which are essential for the smooth and efficient delivery of our work programmes.

Between 2006 and 2010, I had a 4-year sabbatical in Papua New Guinea (PNG), working with the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), where I was employed as Research Programme Leader of NARI’s Main Highlands Research Programme. In this role I was responsible for leading and motivating a team of scientists and technical staff to prepare PNG for a major drought (which took place in 2015/16), eventually gaining the support of PNG government officials, including the Chief Secretary of the PNG government. I also had the privilege of coordinating teams of NARI scientists to bid for, and successfully obtain, 4 EU projects collectively worth €6 million, the largest of which was devoted to preparing PNG for climate change, sea level rise and drought.

On my return to AFBI in 2010, I took over the NI coordination of the DAIRYMAN INTERREG project, which had 14 partner organizations in 7 European countries. In this role I had the honour, on behalf of the project consortium, of presenting the project to the European Commission, who hailed it as a blueprint for the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) – the new paradigm for research delivery in Europe. My research has largely revolved around improving the efficiency of fertiliser and manures nutrients for grass-based agricultural production, with the dual aim of helping NI comply with the Nitrate Directive whilst maintaining high levels of agricultural production. Key outputs have been a set of new phosphorus and manure recommendations which are helping the industry to sustain optimal levels of crop and grass production whilst simultaneously reducing the risk of phosphorus loss to water.

Interesting facts about Dr John Bailey:

What is the last book you read?
The Prisoner of Zenda by Sir Anthony Hope

If you weren’t in your current position what job/career would you like to be doing?
I would be working over-seas in the Asia-Pacific region, tackling food and water insecurity issues with the aim of improving the lives and livelihoods of the highly climate-change-vulnerable island-dwelling peoples.

Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and what is its name?
A dog called Tilly – she is a cross between a collie and a Jack Russell, and is wonderful family pet and watchdog.

What are your hobbies?
I enjoy mountain walking, gardening and home DIY.

What is the most exciting thing you have ever done?
Standing on the ruins of Rabaul in PNG, less than one mile from a live volcano, ‘Turvurvur’, which was emitting huge clouds of smoke to the noise of what seemed like a hundred jet engines – and being told by the local guide that a large boulder of volcanic rock had landed close to the place where I was standing - just a few days earlier.

Notes to editors: 

AFBI carries out high quality technology research and development, statutory, analytical, and diagnostic testing functions for DAERA and other Government departments, public bodies and commercial companies.

AFBI's Vision is to use scientific excellence to advance the local and global agri-food sector.

All media enquiries to AFBI Press Office

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