The Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year award has been won by Matt Fuller of Heathcote Farms, Toddington, Bedfordshire.
Operating a 32m wide Bateman RB35 equipped with 4,000l tank, Mr Fuller joined the team four years ago after graduating from Harper Adams University.
He is now the main sprayer operator on the 1,200ha enterprise. With a thirst to further his knowledge, Mr Fuller has completed his BASIS qualification, which saw him focus on the Capstan Pulse Width Modulation fitted to the farm’s sprayer as the subject of his project.
“Using and adapting to the PWM has been a challenge and a learning curve, with it being one of the first in the country,” comments Mr Fuller. “However, the consistency in application of products has vastly improved and we are seeing between one and two per cent saving on chemicals. The biggest areas of distinction are on the inside of the turn radius where damage could be caused from over application and on the outside where it can become a breeding ground for disease and weeds, leading to resistance.”
Mr Fuller says taking his BASIS qualification is a valuable tool, being the sprayer driver, he sees the most of the farm, making up to 10 passes per year. He is also being given more responsibility when it comes to spray plans and making recommendations.
He has a number of tips for other drivers. Firstly, keep learning; “Go on open days, read bulletins and keep up to date with the latest legislation and news,” he says.
He also offers a couple of practical tips that may help others; “During the spring we will be flat out spraying and applying liquid fertiliser, often requiring long nights and early starts. We have put reflective tape on a number of poles in the fields, it can also help temporary staff find fields at harvest. We also use a plastic milk bottle tray on the spray trailer to keep litre spray bottles upright.”