UK’s top farm sprayer operator announced

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The highly prestigious Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year 2021 has been won by Luke Haynes, of Kent-based Stevens Farm (Hawkhurst), near Cranbrook.

Presented at the Syngenta Sprays & Sprayers event in Lincolnshire this week (30 June), as part of Cereals 2021, the Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year (FSOOTY) rewards the top operators for skills and awareness of safe and efficient operations.

The pick of six great finalists selected from farms and contracting businesses across the UK, Luke operates across 1150 hectares of arable cropping, including applications onto wheat, oats, oilseed rape and beans.  

He operates a Fendt Rogator 645, fitted with a 5000-litre tank and 30-metre Pommier boom. His go-to nozzle choice has been the Syngenta 3D Nozzle which, with three different sizes fitted and his sprayer’s Optinozzle systems, can automatically select the optimum spray pattern for any given water volume and speed. Fungicides are typically applied at 100 l/ha and herbicides at 200 l/ha. 

It’s Luke’s second consecutive appearance as a FSOOTY finalist, however during the year he has changed jobs and sprayer. In that time, he has instigated all the practices required to be a top sprayer operator – highlighting how skills and experience can be readily transferred and implemented. 

Syngenta application specialist and FSOOTY judge, Scott Cockburn, commented how all six finalists had demonstrated a deep understanding of sprayer operation and exemplified good practice to consistently achieve optimum results, whilst achieving safe and accurate application.

“There are so many good examples and Top Tips to share with other operators across the UK. Elevating the skills and best practice of all farm sprayer operators is an essential step to improving all aspects of application. 

“Luke stood out for his appreciation of how his role and the spraying activities integrated into the farm’s overall agronomy, decision making and strategy. 

“It really emphasised the vitally important part that the sprayer operator plays in ensuring the business meets its productivity and efficiency goals.”       

Presenting the FSOOTY awards at Cereals, Phil Jarvis, Chair of the Voluntary Initiative said: “Farmers’ landscape management is entering an exciting and challenging period, where food production and environmental protection will take on an increasingly important role in society.

“Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year is a perfect example of the projects VI support to encourage more collaboration and promote practises that ensure both food production and caring for the environment go hand in hand and prosper. Our congratulations to Luke Haynes and all the finalists.”

The Voluntary Initiative is an industry led programme. Through schemes, tools and messages it promotes the responsible use of pesticides through an IPM-based approach to sustainable agriculture.

Scott Cockburn added that the skills and experiences of all the FSOOTY finalists is set to be a key part of a Syngenta Application Week later in the autumn this year. It will focus on a series of initiatives to sharing practical advice, new research and technological innovation to enhancing safe and efficient pre-emergence herbicide application to optimise results. 

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About Author

Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is an avid follower of Stoke City.