BASIS marks achievement of 200th Diploma in Agronomy

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BASIS is celebrating awarding its 200th Diploma in Agronomy – the highest qualification offered by the independent standards setting and auditing organisation – to Ben Chapman, agronomist for Harlow Agricultural Merchants.

Increasing numbers of agronomists and advisers are seeking recognition for their professional knowledge and are increasingly seeking to gain the highest professional qualification available. The BASIS Diploma requires candidates to complete at least six separate courses, covering aspects of agronomy ranging from crop protection and nutrients to soil, water and conservation management.

Ben, primarily an agronomist, advises growers in Essex and Hertfordshire on crop protection and nutrition as well as seed choice. He is the second Harlow Agricultural Merchants employee to complete the Diploma. He said: “The BASIS qualifications and courses I’ve taken are essential. They reassure my customers that I am well-informed about new legislation that could affect their businesses. It enables me to provide the highest level of advice, including topical information on matters such as conservation management.”

The BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection and the FACTS Certificate are the essential foundation for candidates pursuing the Diploma in Agronomy. In addition, candidates must undertake additional courses and modules that include: BETA (Biodiversity & Environmental Training for Advisers) or Certificate in Conservation Management; the Plant Protection Award (PPA); Soil and Water Management Certificate; and either an Advance Crop Module or the Advanced Nutrient Management Planning Module.

Candidates can build on their knowledge over time, taking the various courses and qualifications at their own pace – there is no time restriction.

Ben took six years to complete the required elements, starting with the BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection. He then went on to pass his FACTS Certificate, Seed Sellers’ Certificate, Advanced Crop Module in potatoes, Certificate in Conservation Management, Soil and Water Management Certificate, and the Plant Protection Award (PPA).

“While the paper certificates for passing each course are important, it’s the knowledge gained that is essential. BASIS courses have provided an on-going challenge in the workplace, pushing me to further my knowledge and understanding. This benefits my customers as I’m able to provide a higher level of advice that so many are seeking,” said Ben.

Stephen Jacob, acting CEO at BASIS, said: “We are delighted to have awarded our 200th Diploma in Agronomy. Ben is an excellent example of a growing number of agronomists seeking high-level professional qualifications. The increase in Diploma holders is testament to the industry’s dedication to improving standards. This should reassure legislators, the foodchain and the general public that UK agriculture is going above and beyond what is required to act responsibly with regard to pesticides, ensuring future food security as well as the highest environmental standards.”

Ben concludes: “There is a growing global challenge for the agricultural sector which requires us to produce enough food to sustain an ever-increasing population. Agriculture is constantly evolving and I’m excited to be working with like-minded people who are pushing the boundaries of yield, while at the same time safeguarding our environment.”

Requirements for the BASIS Diploma in Agronomy:

· BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection: Meets the legislative requirements for sellers and suppliers of agrochemicals and those giving advice on their use in agriculture.

· FACTS Certificate: The qualification for those giving advice on fertiliser and plant nutrition, with due regard for the protection of the environment.

· BETA or Conservation Management: Ideally suited to those managing farms, these modules build knowledge of the environment, biodiversity and conservation management as a means of improving agronomic decisions.

· Plant Protection Award: The syllabus covers the safety, application, formulation, and effects of pesticides, whilst looking at their role in modern society.

· Soil and Water Management Certificate: The qualification meets the requirements placed on farmers to remain up-to-date with the changes to agri-environment schemes.

· Advanced Crop Module or Advanced Nutrient Management Planning Module: These modules allows agronomist to focus on their specialist knowledge of certain crops or to further their FACTS qualification.

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