The exceptional skills of Kent farm-worker, Stuart Woods, have won him the ultimate accolade of Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year 2017. The prestigious competition’s finalists were rewarded at the International Sprays & Sprayers, held in Lincolnshire this week (14 June 2017).
Stuart is responsible for spraying 1200 hectares of arable cropping for the Sittingbourne family farming business of G H Dean & Co, including wheat, barley, oilseed rape, pulses and 20 hectares of soya bean.
Nominated for FSOOTY by the farm’s agronomist, Stuart highlighted taking his BASIS qualification four years ago, and the annual continuous professional development, has enabled him to better understand and contribute to agronomy decisions on crops.
He also reported that the sprayer’s auto cut-off and boom height control has given him the opportunity to map weeds on a screen in the cab on the move – which can help decisions on control options in future crops.
A new purpose-built chemical store and full boom width washdown area has made cleaning, calibration and maintenance easier and far faster, with an integral bio-bed ensures environmental safety. Installing a can crusher has saved the farm time and money.
Oliver Doubleday, Director of G H Dean & Co, added: “We are very proud that Stuart Woods, one of our Arable team, has made it through to the final of the annual Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year.
“We are constantly striving for the highest quality farming practices, along with integrating science and innovation,” said Oliver.
“Stuart demonstrated his professionalism to the judges who visited the farm when it comes to applying pesticides to all our arable crops. It will have also positively reflected the care and attention we pay to the flora and fauna on the farm, and our responsibilities to the environment in general.”
Presenting the Awards, Syngenta Application Specialist, James Thomas, said: “The FSOOTY Awards judge all aspects of farm spraying to identify the very best operators across the UK, and to share their understanding and expertise.
“Stuart has consistently shown outstanding skills and works to very high standards to achieve the best possible results,” reported James.
“He has proved a worthy winner by demonstrating that best practice can deliver efficient, cost effective and, above all, safe crop spraying.
“Syngenta recognises that the skills of the sprayer operator are paramount in achieving the full potential from all our crop protection products,” he added.