Bedfordshire farm sprayer operator Matt Fuller has won the 2020 Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year Award, sponsored by Syngenta, which was announced online as part of Cereals LIVE 2020 this week.
Mr Fuller is the main sprayer operator at the 1,150ha Heathcote Farms, near Toddington, where he works for Andrew Robinson, Farmers Weekly 2019 Farm Manager of the Year and Farmer of the Year.
After finishing university, Mr Fuller joined the farm four years ago, and undertook his Basis qualification to further his education and gain a greater technical understanding of agriculture.
“I’ve only been spraying for five years, but in that time I have seen some big changes. I feel it’s so important to keep up to date with training – anything that increases my knowledge is worthwhile,” he said.
During his Basis training, Mr Fuller investigated the use of Capstan pulse width modulation (PWM) on sprayers and how this improves accuracy of applications. He is now one of the first sprayer operators in the UK to be equipped with the PWM system on his 4,000-litre Bateman RB35, with 32m-wide VG boom.
“The main benefits of investing in PWM is the improved accuracy from individual nozzle control, as well as the turn compensation to maintain consistent application rates,” he added.
NFU vice-president Tom Bradshaw presented the award and congratulated Mr Fuller on his achievement. He said the competition is a great opportunity for operators to demonstrate ways of maximising efficacy and protecting the environment.
“We know there is going to be ever closer scrutiny in the way we use products available to us. It’s critical we can demonstrate professionalism right the way through the industry. But it is also crucial that we look after the environment at the same time,” he said.
Syngenta application specialist Scott Cockburn explained how impressed the judges were by entrants’ knowledge and passion for the job.
“We recognise the skills of the sprayer operator are paramount in achieving the full potential from all our crop protection products. Matt has proved a worthy winner, demonstrating that best practice can deliver efficient, cost-effective and, above all, safe crop spraying,” he added.