FSOOTY Winners tell why you should enter for 2021 NOW
Credibility and recognition are just two positive aspects of winning the Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year competition for George Sargent.
Having lifted the trophy in 2013, George (above) found himself with the opportunity to progress up the farming ladder, and just two years later took on the role of assistant manager based at the Velcourt-managed J Goodley & Sons’ 1400 ha Aylmer Hall Farm, located at Kings Lynn, Norfolk.
“Winning FSOOTY put me on a path of continuous professional development,” says George, who has recently added a BASIS qualification to his repertoire.
“And while my spraying days are now consigned to being the relief operator, my past experience certainly helps when choosing kit and identifying ways of improving what we do.”
Jonny Cross, (below) FSOOTY winner in 2016 says his success gave him a big confidence boost, and also provided recognition for the enthusiasm and passion he has for spraying and the industry.
“Winning the competition definitely helped my career to progress,” he says. “It’s been a big positive for me.”
He believes the ability to share and draw-on knowledge and experience with like-minded operators – the ethos at the core of FSOOTY - has helped to improve the profitability and efficiency of the business.
“I always question what we do, and how we can do things better,” he says. “And I’m lucky enough to be able to draw on past experiences to make better-informed decisions.”
After a short period away from spraying, he has returned to the cab, as farm foreman for the 1000 ha Suffolk-based Hoo Farming Company – a position he has held for the past two years.
“While you can take the boy out of the sprayer, you can’t take spraying out of the boy,” he laughs.
Find out more about FSOOTY 2020 winner, Matt Fuller, here
Although Jo Fewster left practical sprayer operation after reaching the finals of the FSOOTY competition in 2016, the lure of the sprayer seat soon drew her back.
Resuming as a self-employed operator, Jo (above) now carries out spraying and liquid fertiliser operations for the 1,200ha Forward Farming business - a consortium of three growers - plus contract spraying on four other farms in north Lincolnshire.
One of the legacies of her FSOOTY success was the opportunity to be involved with decision making for a new sprayer – a Househam Merlin with full RTK-based auto-steering and section control.
“It was an opportunity to introduce more technology to boost application accuracy and efficiency.
“I really enjoy the variety and freedom that being in a sprayer cab brings,” she says.
Eight years on from winning the FSOOTY title in 2012, James Stafford (below) is still running the same Knight Laser trailed sprayer with 24m boom and 3,000-litre tank.
“It’s now 12 years old and has been a great sprayer, proving that you don’t always need the biggest or the most expensive kit to do a great job.”
It’s also testament to the fact it’s the operator and their skills that is being tested by FSOOTY. James has a passion for doing things right, and a desire to succeed with contract spraying operations for neighbouring customers.
Alongside the family’s 182 ha Pickwick Farm’s arable operation, his spraying covers over 2500 hectares a year.
Having been a finalist in 2015 and again last year, Nick Light continues to enjoy the extensive knowledge transfer and constant communication that exists between like-minded operators, through FSOOTY.
“No matter what your experience, there is always a lot to learn and a lot to share on this job,” says Nick (above), who spends time in the cab of a 4,000-litre, 30m Sands Horizon for his employer, EJ Barker & Sons, Lodge Farm, Westhorpe, Suffolk.
“And the best way to progress is to get out of your comfort zone, to think differently and to challenge yourself,” he says.
Entering FSOOTY 2021 could put a whole new generation of sprayer operators on the path to greater success in the future.
The full profiles and experience of previous FSOOTY Winners appeared in Pro Operator magazine earlier this summer. Visit the website www.eioperator.com and follow the conversation on Twitter @eioperator