Respected national seed business manager with Agrii, Barry Barker has died after a battle with motor neurone disease. Tom Allen-Stevens reports.

Tributes have been paid to Barry Barker, who passed away last Saturday (20 February, 2021) following complications brought on by a chest condition in his battle with motor neurone disease.

As national seed business manager with Agrii, he had served with the company for more than three decades, well known to arable farmers and trusted for his authoritative and honest assessments of cereal and oilseed varieties.

A statement issued by Agrii, on behalf of the colleagues he worked with, noted that Barry “served us all with great distinction”:

To lose a colleague is always hard. To lose a colleague of more than 30 years is even harder. And to lose a long-serving colleague and friend as widely respected, trusted and valued by so many as Barry Barker is especially painful.

Barry was deservedly popular throughout Dalgety, Masstock and ultimately Agrii for his honesty, insight and wicked sense of humour.

Fondly remembered by those who knew him best as a real gentleman with boundless generosity and commitment, he was always prepared to give up his time to help anyone who needed it and willingly shared his vast knowledge to support everyone.

More than this, though, Barry was well-known and appreciated across the farming industry. He was a stalwart of the AIC seeds committee for many years, where his presence was always marked by a well-informed, thoroughly common sense approach to helping the industry through its many challenges.

He was widely appreciated too by the many journalists throughout the farming press for whom he was a preferred source of sound advice and honest opinion on cereal and oilseed rape varieties too numerous to mention. Working with the Agrii R&D team, the up-to-the-moment intelligence he provided will be greatly missed by the many growers who followed his advice and guidance.

Barry bore his condition with unbelievable strength and equanimity, continuing to work right up to the point he went into hospital. He never ceased to give his full commitment to the Agrii seed management team, showing his typical insight and passion at all times, supporting his colleagues at every opportunity, and never complaining about his illness. He was an inspiration to us all.

As we mourn the passing of such a good friend, we are incredibly grateful to have known and worked with him. He was a joy to be around. His built-in optimism was infectious. And we will always remember him with a smile.

Our heartfelt sympathies go to Fiona and his children James and Jenni who we hope will take some comfort as well as pride from the recollections of those who have had the privilege of working with ‘their Barry’ over the years in the Book of Condolences we have opened at

Several generations of CPM readers will be familiar with Barry’s honest insight, and may have him to thank for helping them reach some of their wisest cereal and oilseed variety choices.

His perceptive analysis of what growers wanted made him not only one of the industry’s most valued authorities, but a trusted friend.

The CPM archives are full of examples of Barry’s gift for good guidance. Here’s the most recent, published in May 2020:

Innovation Showcase – Resilience in the face of adversity