FW Awards 2009: Arable Adviser of the Year finalist – Chris Martin

The Northeast Biofuels oilseed rape trials day last month typified the enthusiasm, passion and forward-thinking that courses through Agrovista agronomist Chris Martin’s blood.

Instead of just being content with a standard trials open day, albeit one focused on the potential of oilseed rape for biodiesel, Chris turned it into mini-Cereals for the north.

It was through his hard-work that 10 machinery manufacturers and 14 suppliers of pesticides, seed, fertiliser and soil testing services were also present for a day when over 160 farmers visited.

In addition he used the day to promote biofuels on local TV. It is a subject close to his heart. With a functioning biodiesel plant, albeit on palm oil, just 15 miles away on Teeside, and two bioethanol plants that will take over 2m tonnes of wheat due to be commissioned within the next two years, he is determined his growers are first in the queue to take advantage.

“I really believe we can be the pioneers for the whole country,” he says.

But it is not just his eye on the future that clients like about Chris. His dedication is something to behold. During a busy March to June period he works seven days a week to provide a high level of service to 90 growers covering more than 6000ha of arable plus extra grassland.

Most are visited fortnightly, with the aim of making seven calls a day. He is helped by most being within 20 miles of Scotch Corner, but it is still an impressive achievement, not least because of the level of service he provides.

As well as top-notch agronomy, he also provides a huge range of services, such as nutrient, NVZ, soil, waste, crop protection plans, ELS applications, cross-compliance audits, sprayer calibration and spray store checks.

Many of these plans are now standardised across Agrovista, but Chris was instrumental in designing some of the forms.

Some of these extra services are delivered through Agrovista’s farm business consultancy Agrogate, for which he is the firm’s representative for the north east. “Something I can knock-up in a night I’m happy to do as part of the service, the more complicated things are chargeable.”

It is through Agrogate that he is helping a client put together a proposal to use waste instead of recycled plasterboard on the farm, something that potentially could save the farmer a huge amount of money, as well as the structure of the farm’s heavy soils with very high magnesium status.

Soil management is a topic close to Chris’s heart. “I learnt a big lesson in how important soils are when I worked a seeding season in Western Australia. I’m keen to stress to growers that a crop’s potential is set as soon as they have planted and as a result I like to be heavily involved with soil management and cultivation techniques.”

It is the kind of attention to detail that is bringing results for Chris and his growers. “My goal is to improve my clients’ bottom line profit through a whole-farm approach to crop management, husbandry and agronomy,” he says.

Judging from his clients’ ringing endorsements, Chris is succeeding.

Business Facts

  • Agronomist for distributor Agrovista
  • Covers over 6000ha in North Yorkshire and Durham
  • 90 clients
  • Provides farm business advice through Agrogate

What the judges liked

  • Chris’s enthusiasm bubbles through everything he does. Not many people would have turned an oilseed rape trials demonstration into a multi-firm event attracting over 200 farmers during the course of a season. His dedication to his clients is second to none, and they really value his hard work and the results.

Three Achievements

  • Complete dedication and top-quality service to 90 clients
  • Making an oilseed rape trials demonstration the event to attend in north England this summer
  • Promoting biofuels to growers and consumers


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