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Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year 2022 entry

FSOOTY 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. It's open to all sprayer operators, with the initial stage involving just a few on line questions.


The winner will be announced at Cereals Event 2022 and will win a trip to the 2023 Agritechnica event in Hannover, Germany.

Follow @SyngentaCropsUK on Twitter for latest news from the Awards.

Read on for Top Tips from all of our fantastic 2022 finalists - with thanks to ProOperator magazine for supplying details.

Harry Fordham, Syngenta New Farming Technology Lead 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 2022 - Finalists' Top Tips

Richard Darling – Davison & Co, Great Barford, Bedfordshire

Richard Darling is responsible for all the spraying and fertiliser applications for Davison & Co, based at Green End Farm, Great Barford in Bedfordshire. Here he operates a 36m, Horsch PT280 to treat 1,400ha of the farm’s own all-arable cropping, along with stubble to stubble contract work.

For all his applications Richard chooses to use Lechler, low drift air inclusion nozzles. In the 50cm position he fits the firm’s IDK single outlet nozzle, which faces straight down. In the 25cm setting he uses the twin outlet IDKT.

Richard’s top tip There is no such thing as a ‘silly question’, so never be afraid to ask - that’s how you learn and progress.

Richard Darling FSOOTY
Matt Joseph FSOOTY 2022

Matt Joseph – Acton Farming Co. Bishops Castle, Shropshire

Matt Joseph, reckons to cover upwards of 1,700ha of spraying with a Househam AirRide 4000 for Acton Farming Co near Bishops Castle in Shropshire.

His sprayer, which is one of two on the farm, is equipped with 24m wide boom with DuoReact nozzle control. In this he fits 025 and an 03 Amistar (GuardianAir) nozzles. He likes the flexibility this provides, allowing him to choose to use either on its own, or set it to automatically change between each or operate both together for the desired water volume and set up.

Matt is currently studying for his BASIS foundation course.

Matt’s Top Tip Take time to plan and organise your work, travelling, washouts etc. This improves application efficiency, timeliness and efficacy.

Ashley Luke  – A J Luke Contracting, Frome, Somerset

Ashley Luke runs his own contracting operation from Barrow Hill Farm, near Frome, Somerset. While the business offers a wide range of services, he spends the majority of his time on the sprayer.

He currently operates a Househam AirRide 3500 with 24m wide boom, with twin lines and auto-levelling for its variable geometry boom. A Trimble Nav 900, with RangePoint RTX provides accuracy for auto-section control and EZ-Steer assisted steering. He tends to favour Amistar (GuardianAir) 03 nozzles, with a set of Defy 3Ds facing alternating forwards and back in the other line.

Ashley’s Top Tip HarvestYield is good, easy to use App that includes a free mapping function. This is very useful to measure areas, particularly when working in unfamiliar fields.

Andrew Manning - Ramridge Farm, Hitchin, Herts

Andrew Manning farms in a family partnership at Ramridge Farm, near Hitchin in Hertfordshire, where he looks after 440ha of all-arable cropping as well as the same area of spray contracting.

The family has recently invested in a completely self-funded purpose-built undercover spray store and filling area, where he also keeps his 4,000-litre, 36m Knight 18-40 self-propelled sprayer. Everything is safe and secure in one place. It is all fully bunded and drains to a biobed.

He finds posting on local Facebook pages and WhatsApp groups about what he’s doing on the farm results in positive, rather than negative comments.

Andrew’s top tip Investing in the fully bunded store, filling area and undercover area brings complete peace of mind. As well as improving efficiency, he knows he’s fully complying with the rules and protecting the environment.

Steve May - Fromant & Sanders, Kislingbury, Northants

Steve May, is back in the final four years after making the top six in 2018. As arable foreman at Fromant & Sanders, Clarkes Lodge, Kislingbury, Northamptonshire, he does all the spraying on 810ha of all-arable crops on owned and contract farmed land.

He has also had a change of sprayer to the latest John Deere 36m, 6,000-litre R962i.

Equipped to a high specification, it includes TwinSelect dual nozzle as well as RTK GPS. Along with automatic boom levelling the sprayer has made job much more precise, as well as more pleasurable.

Already BASIS and FACTS qualified, Steve has now progressed taking further BASIS modules.

Steve’s Top Tip Home-made, extended tractor mudguards protect nozzles and keep the sprayer clean in the field as well as prevent mud being thrown onto passing traffic on the road.

Danny Millazzo – Drysdales, Cockburnspath, Berwickshire

For the second year in a row Danny Milazzo is in the FSOOTY final. As the main operator for Drysdales, he is responsible for spraying 560ha of brassicas in a 60 mile radius from the base at Cockburnspath in Berwickshire.

This winter Danny began studying for his BASIS qualification at SRUC. Danny has moved to completely paperless recommendations and recording. Using Greenlight Grower software with an App on his iPad in the cab makes it so much easier and accurate for everyone.

Danny is now using a 5,000-litre, Rogator 645 with 36m boom and OptiNozzle (2+2) system that switches between nozzles to maintain droplet size.

Danny’s top tip Working closely with the agronomist helps to pre-plans work, washouts, routines and travel to make the most of each day.