- Bryce Rham
Energy and enthusiasm pour out of every pore of Bryce Rham. And how he must need both, walking nearly 19,000 acres of cropped land for his clients.
An AICC-member in Shropshire, he has reacted to the loss of sugar beet from the region by taking on more combinable crops. “I used to do 2000 acres of beet that had to be seen once a week.
“When I had that I couldn’t have done 19,000 acres.”
For most agronomists 19,000 acres would still be far too much to cope with, and even Bryce admits he is at saturation point. It is his first season with so much after picking up 4500 acres last autumn. He manages it by being focused and dedicated. His hours are long, Saturdays are spent field walking from March to June and Sundays he does the paperwork.
“It was a leap last autumn, but it has worked out. The crops look good, despite it being a difficult autumn for slugs and not easy, around T0/T1 this spring. I don’t think I have made any major cock-ups. The only complaint is from my [former] beet men, who were used to me being there every week. Now I go every fortnight.”
Possibly because of his high workload, Bryce plans fungicide programmes ahead of the season, leaving any minor tweaks for the season. The same goes for autumn herbicide use. But that helped him overcome product shortages in the past season and ensured his clients were supplied with his first-choice programmes.
He treats the crops as if they are his own. As Tony Riley, whose farm we visited to meet Bryce, tells us: “You’re late with spraying a recommendation at your peril.”
His passion rubs off on his clients, which means they are prepared to back his judgement over changes of direction and help experiment with split fields to improve crop performance. “He’s a breath of fresh air,” Tony says.
“When you’ve got someone that enthusiastic, it gives you confidence it can be done.”
That was the case when Bryce advised him to grow feed spring barley for seed and oats as replacements for sugar beet. “As a virgin year it couldn’t have gone better.”
You’d have thought with 19,000 acres to walk, Bryce wouldn’t have time for much else. But he operates a buying group for the seven Shropshire advisers, who make up Farmadvisers. “It’s part of my role in the group to get the right quantities of products and at good prices. Usually our prices are in the top 10%,” he says. “I get a buzz out of getting the figures.”
He is also committed to ongoing training not just his own as typified by being one of the first agronomists to pass the BASIS diploma in agronomy, but also that of farmers through his work as a cross-compliance adviser for Momenta in Cumbria, which involves advising on cross-compliance issues at farm walks and meetings.
His clients have benefited from that experience and he also offers help with single-farm payment and ELS applications, soil testing and budgeting among other services. Bryce is also a good champion for farming, both on a national scale and locally, with good links into the region’s papers.
“I do a certain amount of promoting issues for example, the EU pesticide legislation and how the sugar beet factory closure has affected Shropshire farmers.”
What the judges likes
- Boundless energy and enthusiasm
- High level of client support
- Good use of independent information to develop spray programmes
- Active in spreading UK farming messages
- Independent agronomist covering Shropshire and surrounding area
- Field walks 7500ha (18,750 acres) for 45 clients
- Offers agronomy and other business advice
- Agrochemical co-ordinator of Farmadvisers buying group