FSOOTY is back again for 2021 with one goal: To find the best Farm Sprayer Operator in 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.
Read on for top tips from all of our fantastic 2020 finalists and follow @SyngentaCropsUK on Twitter for latest news.
Harry Fordham, 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 nature. The Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year award aims to recognise this professional approach and help encourage further improvements.
It’s not about having the latest kit. If you can demonstrate ingenuity and an ability to meet these varying objectives by using agrochemicals sensibly, then you are in with a chance of winning."
FSOOTY 2020 Finalist Top Tips
FSOOTY 2020 Winner, Matt Fuller – Heathcote Farms, Toddington, Beds
Four years ago, after finishing university, Matt Fuller joined Heathcote Farms in Toddington, Bedfordshire, where he is now the main sprayer operator. Since then he has taken his BASIS qualification and entered FSOOTY to further his education and application knowledge. Mr Fuller operates a 4,000-litre, Bateman RB35 with 32m wide VG boom. It is one of the first in the UK to be equipped with Capstan Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), which became the subject of his BASIS project.
Matt’s top tips include using a milk tray to hold and transfer products, and making use of technology such as forecasting apps, manufacturer bulletins or product labels on websites. He also recommends to never stop learning, saying he has gained invaluable knowledge having become BASIS trained and picking up tricks from other sprayer operators.
Luke Haynes - Montreal Estate, Kent
A sprayer operator for just five years, Luke Hayes, has recently completed his BASIS qualification and entered FSOOTY to further increase his knowledge. Mr Haynes is responsible for all the spraying at the Montreal Estate, Sevenoaks, Kent. There he treats 400ha of land with a 4,000-litre Bateman RB 35 with 24m booms, equipped with Hypro DuoReact twin nozzles. He also carries out a further 300ha of contracting.
Luke’s top tips include traffic lighting fields based on grass weed pressures, having a complimentary low drift nozzle option on the second spray line to be able to ride out worse conditions at the flick of a switch, and pushing yourself with further training as he enjoyed the challenge of completing his BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection this year.
Michael Knight – A J Middleton, Pytchley, Kettering
Michael Knight operates a new Sands Horizon 5,500 litre capacity, which brought a move up to a 36m wide boom, replacing a 24m Vision 4000. He uses this to treat the farm’s 1,600ha of crops including winter and spring wheat, oilseed rape, beans, spring barley and linseed. Along with contracting, he reckons to cover about 12,000ha a year, operating across land in a radius of about 12 miles from his base.
Michael’s top tips include using his phone to send his location and using a camera for taking pictures of areas of concern such as slugs or areas of early disease that need to be acted on quickly.
Peter Dennis – Sentry, R Stenberg Farms, Tenterden, Kent
Peter Dennis is the only entrant in this year’s line-up who has reached the finals before. A sprayer operator since the 1980s, he works for Sentry carrying out all the spraying at R Sternberg Farms in Kent. Here he’s responsible for applications on 1,200ha of arable cropping, using a 24m, Househam Merlin with 4,000-litre tank.
Peter’s top tip is to make a note of field and headland areas in a notebook to help if for example you are only wanting to spray a headland.
Steven Keal – Thelveton Farms, Diss
Shortly after Steven Keal moved to Thelveton Farms, Diss the business replaced its previous 24m machine with a new 5,000-litre, Agrifac Condor, with a 36m wide boom fitted with Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). He uses this to treat 1,440ha of combinable, as well as contract potatoes. He finds the PWM’s single nozzle control and turn compensation has greatly improved accuracy, leading to significant savings.
Steven’s number one top tip is using a traffic light system in his chemical store so different products don’t get mixed up.
Tristan Newens – Windmill Down Farm, Petersfield, Hampshire
Tristan Newens reckons to spend about 850hrs/year spraying 6,500ha of crops from his base at Windmill Down Farm, Petersfield, Hampshire, where he operates a trailed John Deere R952i. From here he covers five separate farms across land from Portsmouth up to Alton in Hampshire.
Tristan’s top tips are around sprayer tech. He has active pause on filling and full integration to tractor joystick, mudguards tailored for tractor and sprayer, and having mobile workshop and sprayer equipment in the front box.