Ed Meek, a 23-year-old Agrovista agronomist, has been awarded with the esteemed Barrie Orme Shield for outstanding performance in the BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection.
Ed explains that although he is not from an agricultural background, his passion for farming started at an early age, and after spending time with an independent advisor he knew he wanted to become an agronomist.
“During sixth form, I dedicated my spare time to working on a mixed farm as I wanted to gain practical skills required to study a foundation degree in agriculture at Harper Adams.
“I graduated with a distinction in 2016 before taking up my current role at Agrovista. I enrolled on the BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection as I felt it was an essential step in my career progression.
“The course provided me with the fundamental knowledge required for my role, including everything from identification and control of weeds, pests and diseases, to the application, handling and storage of plant protection products,” he says.
Ed was selected from 18 runners up, including Georgina Beevers, Jonathan James and Edward Sandeman, who were shortlisted from over 250 candidates that achieved the certificate in 2017.
Stephen Jacob, BASIS CEO, adds that Ed excelled in all areas of the qualification, that is assessed in four elements: a written exam, practical identification, a research project and vivas.
“The standard of applicants was extremely high, but Ed’s drive and ambition shone through and helped him to succeed,” he says.
Throughout the course Ed was tutored by BASIS accredited trainer, James Christian-Ilett, who oversaw his research project that was based on how yellow rust races were evolving to overcome varietal resistance.
“When I first set out researching my project, yellow rust was starting to become a real issue, so I wanted to delve deeper into the disease to see how resistance would evolve,” says Ed.
“It was clear that the disease was, and still is, rapidly changing to overcome varietal resistance genes. This highlights the importance of plant breeding for varieties that are more resilient to disease.”
He goes on to explain that achieving the BASIS qualification is a fantastic accomplishment. “It has provided me with the confidence I need to provide my clients with quality technical advice. The BASIS continuing professional development scheme will ensure that my knowledge is updated in line with changing standards and regulations.”
The next step in Ed’s career plan is to train for and achieve a FACTS qualification in crop nutrition, to enable him to provide farmers with guidance on appropriate fertiliser applications.