FSOOTY is back again for 2017 with one goal: To find the best Farm Sprayer Operator in the the UK. The Award was be presented at Cereals Event, and the winner of FSOOTY 2017 is Stuart Woods.
Read on for top tips from all of our fantastic 2017 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 2017 Finalists - Top Tips
Stuart Woods - Winner
Stuart works in Sittingborne, Kent, spraying 1,100 ha of combinable crops, including 18 ha soy bean for the first time this year. He operates a 24m RB55 Bateman with 5000L capacity. Nominated for FSOOTY by the farm’s agronomist, Stuart highlights taking his BASIS qualification has enabled him to interact with agronomy decisions on crops. 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 makes 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.
Chris is the Farm Foreman on the 3800 acres Rooksnest Estate based outside of Hungerford, Berkshire. He uses a 36m Horsch Leeb PT270 with 8000l tank to apply crop protection products to a mixture of winter and spring cereals, maize and oilseed rape. He has worked closely with Horsch to fit a unique back flush filter cleaning system and boom system to ensure a thorough clean throughout the spraying system. He has also adopted a thorough approach to record keeping, not only completing digital spray records, but also taking a photo of the products he has used and adding to a calendar entry on his tablet. This provides him with complete traceability, and also gives him a quick reminder of what was previously in the tank. Finally using an old feed trough Chris has developed a draining rack for triple rinsed pesticide cans, a cost effective solution to a simple problem.
Simon is the main spray operator at AW Mortier covering over 2500ha of diverse cropping including cereals, brassicas, legumes and a variety of root crops with sweet potatoes being grown this year for the first time. He has two machines to service the farms needs including a new 24m, 5000l Rogator and 24m mounted Amazone machine. With over 30 years’ experience, Simon is keen to pass on his vast knowledge to a new younger generation of spray operators. He is currently in the process of training a new recruit to the team to assist him at peak times. He is also working with farm management teams to get a new sprayer store built aimed at increasing sprayer efficiencies out of the field. Striving for maximum productivity on spray days, he carries replacement nozzles on his sprayer to allow quick changes in field if one becomes blocked. Finally he has manufactured wing mirror protectors to prevent damage down the tight Suffolk lanes he travels on.
Steve is the Arable Foreman at Whittal Seeds, Hereford and has been spraying for 26 years. He protects 350ha of combinable cereals and grass seed crops with a 24m Kellands Agribuggy 2700. Never wanting to turn down an opportunity to further his own knowledge, Steve would recommend operators stay up together with all things spraying by attending annual NRoSO courses, using social media platforms and sharing tips and advice with each other. Also keen to maintain his sprayer in top condition, Steve has developed a novel solution to protect his newly fitted boom lights from chemical staining. “By wrapping inexpensive cling film over the lights it protects them from staining and also allows me to remove and replace when illumination becomes limited.” A simple yet effective system.
Andrew protects a diverse range of cropping including sugar beet, maize, winter cereals and peas over 400ha mixed farm in North Yorkshire using a 24m RB16 Bateman with 3000l capacity. Having recently changed to digital spray records Andrew would encourage other growers to do the same, “it makes life a lot simpler, I no longer have loose pieces of paper in the cab, and I would really encourage other operators to switch to such systems”. With a small field size Andrew also finds himself using many part cans. To ensure accurate stock control he writes using a permanent pen onto the lid of the can, to remind him how much product is left. Finally Andrew would encourage all operators to fully understand the multiple buffer zones that are in operation.
Tim is the sole spray operator at the Ramsbury Estate, using a 36m, 4000l Amazone Pantra to protect 6500ha of predominantly combinable crops across the rolling Wessex downs. Over the past 30+ years Tim has been spraying, he has seen many changes in application practices, including the increasing use of complex tank mixes. To avoid compatibility issues that can come with these mixes Tim stresses the importance of checking the label, manufacturer’s websites and if in doubt calling their technical helplines to check product compatibility. Tim is also very conscious of his filling procedures and potential contamination issues especially from foil seals. “ I prefer products without such as Syngenta’s S-PAC, however if I do have seals I use a household sieve in the induction to make sure they are thoroughly clean before storing them separately for waste collection.” Finally Tim has turned to a unique Varitarget nozzles to ensure quality application. These nozzles are capable of maintaining a constant water volume at varying speeds without compromising spray quality. “This is particularly useful on many of the steep banks we operate on, where maintaining 12kph is difficult.”