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Trainee Technical Specialist in Crop Characterisation

Histon, Cambridge
Closing date
12 Aug 2024

From £23,088 per annum (depending on experience and qualifications)

Histon, CB24 9NZ

Ref: SV/A1375

Are you passionate about plants and agriculture? If so, we have an exciting opportunity for you!

We are looking to appoint a Trainee Technical Specialist to assist in delivering our Seed Certification and DUS (Distinctness, Uniformity, and Stability) programmes. This role involves a variety of tasks across the office, field, laboratory, and glasshouse environments and has significant career development potential. 

About the Role  

In this role, you'll be at the forefront of agricultural research and innovation. You'll assess plots and crops, meticulously record data, and contribute to processing and interpreting results. Your tasks will include planning and setting up trials, handling and processing samples, and preparing seeds and materials. You'll also maintain and protect trials from birds and pests. Each day offers a dynamic mix of activities, making your work both exciting and impactful in shaping the future of agriculture.

Contract: Permanent

Working hours: 37 hours per week, Monday to Friday, 8.00am – 4.00pm

About You 

We are seeking an individual who is deeply passionate about plants and agriculture, driven by a keen eye for detail and a flexible approach to their work. You thrive in a varied and dynamic environment, where each day may bring new challenges and opportunities, including dealing with the British weather! You excel in collaborative settings, leveraging strong communication skills to contribute effectively to team goals. Your commitment to learning and development is evident, and you are eager to embrace training opportunities that will enhance your expertise in agricultural innovation. 

About the Team 

The Agricultural Crops Characterisation team, ACC for short, is at the forefront of global agricultural innovation, providing essential regulatory services and contract research focused on plant varieties and seeds. We work with prestigious government bodies such as APHA and Defra, and international organisations like the OECD.

The ACC team is renowned for its cutting-edge contributions to global agriculture. Here’s what makes our work exceptional:

• Regulatory Leadership: We conduct Distinctness, Uniformity, and Stability (DUS) testing for new plant varieties, crucial for granting Plant Breeders' Rights (PBR) and ensuring Variety Listing (VL). Our work helps protect intellectual property and supports agricultural innovation worldwide.

• Seed Certification: We ensure seeds meet UK regulatory standards, contributing to high-quality agricultural production and food security.

• Global Influence: We provide expert advice to APHA, Defra, and international bodies, influencing policies and standards that shape the future of agriculture.

• High Throughput Systems: We use advanced technologies for the physical characterisation, analysis, and description of plant materials, ensuring accuracy and efficiency in our assessments.

• Comprehensive Training: We offer extensive training to national and international clients, helping to develop the next generation of agricultural experts.

Our main crops include cereals, oilseeds, herbage, sugar beet, and pulses, with a variety of minor crops and ornamental species also in focus.

Career Progression

We are dedicated to your professional growth, offering numerous opportunities for career advancement. With our comprehensive training and hands-on experience, you'll have the chance to unlock your full potential and shaping a rewarding career in agriculture.

Operational Requirements

The role is physically demanding, involving standing, walking, and working outdoors in all weather conditions. Regular manual handling of items up to 20kg, such as bags of seeds, is required. Exposure to plant materials, including pollen, is also part of the job. You will also be required to have normal colour vision which will need to be tested as part of the recruitment process.


The role is based at NIAB Park Farm, Histon, Cambridge, CB24 9NZ, 4 miles from Cambridge city centre. Free on-site parking and linked by cycleways and regular buses to Cambridge city centre and railway station. Close to Junction 32 of A14, with easy access to M11, A10 and A11.

Benefits include 25 days’ holiday plus public holidays and 3 days off during the Christmas period, flexible working hours, generous sick pay, attractive pension scheme, income protection, life assurance, free on-site parking, cycle to work scheme, employee discounts, employee assistance programmes and great colleagues.

See the full Job Description on our website for more details.

Informal enquiries are welcome, please contact Vanessa McMillan, Technical Manager,


Come and join an organisation at the forefront of the application of genetics, physiology, soil science, precision agronomy and data science to improve the yield, efficiency, and resilience of crop production across the arable, forage and horticulture sectors. 

NIAB actively promotes equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society. As a Disability Confident Employer, we have a positive approach to employing people living with a disability.


Click the ‘Apply’ button or visit our website for further details and to apply directly. Any questions? Email or call Human Resources on 01223 342282.  

Closing date: 12 August 2024, with interviews being held on 29 August 2024.

You can also apply for this role by clicking the Apply Button.

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