natural science


Agronomy is the science of crop management to create the maximal harvest by the optimal application of resources. It draws on a solid mix of long established ecological principles together with newer, more innovative approaches. 

Agricultural issues manifest themselves not only in the preparation of fields for planting, and tending of the crops until harvest, but also (and perhaps more significantly) in the care of the crops from harvest until delivery at final destination. This is a journey which, in modern times, can easily extend over hundreds if not thousands of miles, involve multiple means of carriage and storage, and potentially incompatible contractual and legal standards applied.

Prime examples of potential conflicts arrise with shipments of food stuffs for human or animal consumption into the P.R. China, a destination fraught with pitfalls brought about by a mix of domestic agendas and ever stricter import requirements. Our team is expert at navigating this and many other jurisdictions, providing guidance and practical support at all stages.

Some of the ways in which our highly experienced technicians and scientists can assist clients, is with questions of:

  • harvest & storage
  • land & sea transport
  • end use processing
  • standards compliant sampling and testing
  • interpretation of laboratory results
  • mitigation of potential loss
  • disposal or repurposing of rejected goods

Our experts have routinely been called to provide guidance and opinion on a range of agricultural products, including:

  • Grains & Cereals: maize (corn), wheats, barley, oats, rice, rye, soybean (seed, oil & meal), oilseeds, millets, corn meals, feeds and pellets, distillers grains.
  • Dairy, Livestock, Reefer Cargo: milk, powdered milk, fish, meat, poultry, fruits & vegetables, wine.
  • Soft Commodities: cocoa, coffee, lumber, cotton.

Case Study: Rejection 45,000 tonnes Soybean

A vessel was loaded with about 45,000 tonnes of Brazilian soybean in bulk, to Brazil export standards, for delivery in China. During its voyage the vessel was stopped in Singapore (arrested) by the mortgage bank for the vessel. The dispute between bank and vessel owners went on for some time, during which period the soybeans began to spoil.

At prevailing market rates the cargo was worth about GBP £15 million, and with rapid onset of spoiling the full cargo was in danger of loss, with additional expenses incurred for delay and other penalties taking the final total well above GBP £20 million.

Post incident the cargo receiver began an action against the vessel owner for the delay, leading to loss. The owner appointed a well known science consultancy to argue that the loss was caused by the cargo receivers demanding the cargo be transferred to another vessel while the original one was still under arrest and detention in Singapore. AMA Agronomy and cargo expertise was retained by the cargo interests (a major China-based soybean processor) and their UK lawyers to assess the delay, cargo transfer operations and subsequent additional costs and losses associated with receiving and then processing damaged soybeans (there was no doubt the beans were damaged by their prolonged storage onboard the vessel). The processing losses ran in the millions of pounds and London Arbitration was commenced.

AMA chemists, showing considerably more local (China) market understanding than the owners international science experts, were able to successfully argue both that all additional costs associated with the reprocessing in China were to be expected, were properly accounted for and in order, and that the claimed for losses by blending and reduced sale value were also correct, meaning that the receiver was able to claim for these.

AMA cargo experts and agronomists were able to successfully show that the owners and their science experts were incorrect in their assertions that cargo damages were grossly inflated by the receivers actions to transfer the cargo, and further and to the contrary that is was in fact the guidance given by the owners science experts (at the time of cargo delay in Singapore) that was a significant contributor to the losses.

Following AMA’s late appointment to this case – and therefore only working from the reports of other parties and our own expertise, we were able to bring about a reverse to the owners hitherto strong case and lead to receivers coming into receipt of significant compensation in excess of GBP £10 million.

AMA Provided: –

  • Chemical scientists (food chemistry experts)
  • Agronomists (crop production experts)
  • Marine officers (operational experts)

Why not give us a call now to see how we could help you

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