May 16, 2020 6:30 PM

Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year (FSOOTY)

Despite the Covid-19 outbreak, the prestigious FSOOTY award is going ahead as planned, with the six finalists judged remotely using video conferencing technology.

The finalists are:

Peter Dennis – Sentry, Tenterden, Kent

Peter Dennis is the only entrant in this year’s line-up who has reached the finals before. A sprayer operator since the 1980s, he works for Sentry carrying out all the spraying at R Sternberg Farms in Kent. Here he’s responsible for applications on about 1,200ha of 

arable crops with a 24m, Househam Merlin with 4,000-litre tank.

Matt Fuller – Heathcote Farms, Toddington, Beds

Four years ago, after finishing university, Matt Fuller joined Heathcote Farms in Toddington, Beds where he is now the main sprayer operator. Since then he has taken his BASIS qualification and entered FSOOTY to further his education and application knowledge. Mr Fuller operates a 4,000-litre, Bateman RB35 with 32m wide VG boom. It is one of the first in the UK to be equipped with Capstan Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), which became the subject of his BASIS project.

Luke Haynes, the Montreal Estate, Kent

A sprayer operator for just five years, Luke Hayes, has recently completed his BASIS qualification and entered FSOOTY to further increase his knowledge. Mr Haynes is responsible for all the spraying at the Montreal Estate, Sevenoaks, Kent. Here he treats 400ha of land with a 4,000-litre Bateman RB 35 with 24m booms equipped with Hypro DuoReact twin nozzles. He also carries out a further 300ha of contracting.

Steven Keal – Thelveton Farms, Diss

Shortly after Steven Keal moved to Thelveton Farms, Diss the business replaced its previous 24m machine with a new 5,000-litre, Agrifac Condor with a 36m wide boom fitted with Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). He uses this to treat 1,440ha of combinable, as well as contract potatoes and finds the PWM’s single nozzle control and turn compensation has greatly improved accuracy leading to significant savings.

Michael Knight – AJ Middleton, Pytchley, Kettering

Michael Knight operates a new Sands Horizon 5,500 litre capacity, that brought a move up to a 36m wide boom, replacing a 24m Vision 4000. He uses this to treat 1,600ha of crops including winter and spring wheat, oilseed rape, beans, spring barley and linseed.

With contracting he covers about 12,000ha/year operating across land in a radius of about 12 miles from his base.

Tristan Newens – Windmill Down Farm, Petersfield, Hampshire

Tristan Newens reckons to spend about 850hrs/year spraying 6,500ha of crops from his base at Windmill Down Farm, Petersfield, Hampshire, where he operates a trailed John Deere R952i. From here he covers five separate farms across land from Portsmouth up to Alton in Hampshire.

 The winner will be announced at 12.30pm on Wednesday 10th at Cereals Live 2020. 

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