Matt Fuller, who works for Heathcote Farms, Toddington, Beds, is the 2020 Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year.
Although Matt has only been operating a sprayer full time for less than five years, his enthusiasm, dedication and quest for knowledge delivered him the FSOOTY title on his first attempt.
In this most unusual of years the finalists had to not only rise to the challenge of the final judging process, but also undertake this remotely, via video conferencing, explains head judge, Scott Cockburn, business manager and application specialist with FSOOTY organiser, Syngenta.
“All the FSOOTY finalists displayed a high level of skill and professionalism, but it’s clear Matt has progressed quickly in his relatively short career,” says Scott. “He is also obviously very interested in what he is doing, gaining his BASIS qualification and continuing to increase his knowledge. He also knows where the business is going and what it wants to achieve.”
Matt played a part in the farm’s decision to invest the new 4,000-litre Bateman RB35 with a 32m wide boom, equipped with PinPoint PWM technology. He then set about finding out how to make the most of it.
Matt’s BASIS project involved using water sensitive paper to assess the droplet size and coverage from various nozzles and settings. He is now using this research in a reference guide that he carries in a folder to help him select the best set-up for the crop, target and conditions.
“It was clear to the judges that Matt’s knowledge and operational standards are above and beyond what even we would expect to see in a final,” says Scott. “He is not only on top of technology, but combines this with some practical ideas. We were particularly taken by his idea to use an old milk crate to safely hold 1-litre cans, so he can unscrew the lids and keep them ready for filling without the risk of them toppling over. It’s simple but ingenious!”
Elsewhere across the operation judges were impressed with Matt’s bowser filling system (see video), which leaves nothing to chance. Based around a purpose-built trailer, it holds all the essential equipment, as well as a water pump with 3in feed hose.
All the products are stored in lockable cabinets on the trailer as well as providing room for two IBCs for trace elements. At the rear is a large mixing bowl, next to which is a white board on which he writes the contents for each load. There’s also a draining rack and bin for cleaned containers and lids. It’s a completely contained, portable filling area.
Back at the farm base the judges were similarly impressed with the clean, tidy and well managed store. On the wall is a white board that shows the stock levels, divided into product type (which is also recorded in notes kept outside the store).
Another board displays all the essential information in one place – including emergency numbers, farm maps, manufacturer contacts as well as copies of his various certificates and qualifications.
Outside is an IBC biofilter assembly that cleans the washings, which are irrigated onto an adjacent area.
Look out for our full report, with more pictures and videos, about Matt Fuller’s professional and prize-winning operation in the Autumn issue of Pro Operator and here on Ei Operator.com
Need NRoSO or BASIS points?
There are up to 8 NRoSO and 12 BASIS points available from our Ei Operator courses.