FSOOTY is back again for 2018 with one goal: To find the best Farm Sprayer Operator in the the UK. The award seeks to reward the country’s top sprayer operators - whilst also sharing the practical tips and best practice that can help all operators enhance results and protect the environment. This year's Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year is Andrew Woolley.
Read on for top tips from all of our fantastic 2018 finalists.
Jamie Marshall-Roberts, New Farming Technology Lead EUN, on FSOOTY
"The application of crop protection products is one of the most complex challenges faced on farm. From filling the sprayer, through applying the spray to disposing of the empty containers, the operator is faced with many possible ways of doing the job.
The use of plant protection products is under constant scrutiny, so it is important to use them safely and efficiently in a way that meets crop needs, as well as public, operator and environmental safety.
It’s a tricky balance, but for many operators, it comes as second...
FSOOTY 2018 - Finalist Top Tips
Andrew Woolley finds himself in the final for the third time. As arable manager at Puckshipton Farms, near Devizes in Wiltshire he is responsible for all the spraying using a 24m, Lemken Sirius front- and rear-mounted combination, which provides a total capacity of 3,000 litres.
Although he has been spraying for more than 35 years, Andrew is always keen to learn new things and look into the latest technology and techniques.
Andrew never stops coming up with new ideas to help improve efficacy and efficiency, such as mounting water sensitive paper on fencing stakes to assess how the spray is penetrating the crop.
He also now uses two white boards to monitor his spray stock, one in store and a portable one so he can cross products off as they’re used up. This is also kept outside the store, in a safe place in case of emergencies, such as a fire.
Dayle Warren took on the spraying for L.E. Barnes, near Marston Moretaine, Beds four years ago, where he covers about 1,800ha of crops.
Here he operates a 36m, 8,000 litre Horsch Leeb PT280 and ensures he makes best use of the technology it offers, including AutoSelect, which automatically selects the most appropriate nozzle for the speed to maintain the droplet size.
The sprayer is equipped with auto-steer, which uses the farm’s RTK signal that works to an accuracy of 2cm. He used this to log all the boundaries near watercourses on the farm and, with his manager, created maps that are used to select LERAP 3-star nozzles from the cab.
Despite the sprayer being equipped to the highest spec, he has still found room for improvement adding a spare filter holder. He made this from a piece of tube with a threaded cap that unscrews from the base so the filter doesn’t have to be lifted out through mud and dirt.
First time finalist, Steve May, is arable foreman for Fromant and Sanders at Clarkes Lodge Farm, Kislingbury, Northants, where he uses a 24m John Deere 740 trailed sprayer, powered by a JD6215R to cover 640ha of arable crops for six different clients, including the main unit with.
Already FACTS qualified, Steve has recently gained his BASIS diploma in crop protection after completing a module/year.
To keep essential information close to hand Steve has put together a Sprayer Applications Manual, with details about LERAPs, emergency numbers etc. As well as using a weather app, he also stores emergency numbers on his phone as well as his BASIS and NRoSO numbers, so there’s no need to look them up.
Mark Turner is a finalist for the second year running. As sprayer operator for Rise Farms, Near Hull, he uses a Bateman RB35 with 30m booms to spray 900ha of arable crops and peas.
While it’s a good thing most containers are no longer using foils, Mark notes that it is important to remember the caps are now contaminated. So he now rinses these on the induction hopper’s can wash.
Other tips include a modification to the sight gauge to it’s easier to see it filling from a distance. He also now has a ‘smart watch’ that vibrates with weather alerts from an App, which means he doesn’t have to check his phone. He has also made a special tool to help remove stubborn filter collars.
A finalist for the second year running, Simon Reading is the main sprayer operator for A.W.Mortiers Ltd, Woodbridge in Suffolk, where he uses a 24m, 5,000-litre Challenger Rogator.
The farm grows a diverse range of crops, with vegetables as the main enterprise. His work entails applying quite a lot of SU granules, which are used at fairly low dose rates - down to 35g/ha. Instead of using the graduated plastic jugs supplied, he uses a set of electronic kitchen scales for greater accuracy.
In addition, he has put reflective tape on the boom to easily identify blocked nozzles and monitor section control of booms.
Rob Holmes works in partnership with his father and brother Pete at the family farm near Ashbourne, Derbyshire. Rob uses a trailed Kuhn Metris 3202, 24m, 3,200-litre sprayer to cover 300ha of owned and contract-farmed arable crops including wheat, winter and spring barley, spring beans and winter oilseed rape.
Rob’s top tip is a simple, effective method to avoid cross contamination: he has bought and colour-coded filters and mixing jugs for each crop – red for cereals, yellow for oilseed rape, green for grassland and blue for pulses.
He also carries a small syringe from children’s medicine to remove blockages from nozzles by blasting air through them.