DESPITE the physical cancellation of the Cereals event, some of the new spraying technology that would have been showcased at it will still be able to be viewed at the ‘virtual’ event that will replace it.

Cereals LIVE will allow the latest trailed, self-propelled or even robotic sprayers, to be seen. “Though farmers won’t be able to stand on the side of a ring and physically watch the demos this year, they can still access the Syngenta Sprays and Sprayers Arena at the online event on June 10-11, with exhibitors presenting their technology through working demonstration videos,” explained Alli McEntyre, Cereals event director.

To get the most out of plant protection products, application is of utmost importance, says Harry Fordham, the new farm technology lead at Syngenta. “It is vital that sprayer operators have the right equipment to ensure they can do the job safely, efficiently and effectively.

“We are proud to continue our sponsorship of the Sprays and Sprayers Arena this year, albeit virtually. We are looking forward to watching the demonstrations showcasing the latest innovations in application technology which allow farmers to use products effectively and responsibly.”

In this feature we take a look at those forward for the Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year (FSOOTY) for, despite the Covid-19 outbreak, the prestigious FSOOTY award will go ahead as planned, with the six finalists being judged remotely using video conferencing technology.

The finalists are:

Peter Dennis – Sentry, Tenterden, Kent

He 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 1200ha of arable crops with a 24m, Househam Merlin with 4000-litre tank.

Matt Fuller – Heathcote Farms, Toddington, Beds

Four years ago, after finishing university, he joined Heathcote Farms and is now the main sprayer operator.

He has taken his BASIS qualification and entered FSOOTY to further his education and application knowledge and operates a 4000-litre, Bateman RB35 with 32m 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, he has recently completed his BASIS qualification and is responsible for all the spraying on the Montreal Estate.

There he treats 400ha of land with a 4000-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 he moved to Thelveton Farms, Diss, the business replaced its previous 24m machine with a new 5000-litre, Agrifac Condor with a 36m wide boom with Pulse Width Modulation (PWM).

He uses this to treat 1440ha of combinable crops, as well as contract potatoes and finds the PWM’s single nozzle control and turn compensation greatly improved accuracy leading to significant savings.

Michael Knight – AJ Middleton, Pytchley, Kettering

He operates a new Sands Horizon 5500 litre capacity, that brought a move up to a 36m wide boom, replacing a 24m Vision 4000.

He uses this to treat 1600ha 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

He spends about 850hours per year spraying 6,500ha of crops from his base at Windmill Down, where he operates a trailed John Deere R952i.

From there he covers five separate farms across land from Portsmouth up to Alton in Hampshire.

The winner will be announced at CerealsLIVE 2020 on June 10.