Meet the 2019 FSOOTY winner
Simon Bailey from Norman Court Contracting from near Salisbury, Wilts is the 2019 Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year.
His 20 years’ spraying experience, superb organisational skills and many clever ideas pushed him to the top of a strong field of contenders in this year’s close fought competition.
“I am proud, honoured and amazed to have won,” says Simon. “And I still don’t think of myself as the best sprayer operator – any one of the six finalists could have won the competition. I just think I did the best on the day. I entered to challenge myself. I had been nominated a couple of times before and thought I would give it a go again. I thought it would be good to help expand my knowledge.”
Organised by Syngenta, the FSOOTY competition has been raising spraying standards in the UK for more than 35 years. “Applying crop protection products is one of the most complex challenges on the farm,” says James Thomas, the company’s New Farming Technology Lead. “UK operators are some of the best in the world and the FSOOTY competition finds and recognises those, like Simon Bailey, who are the best of the best.”
Scott Cockburn, Business Manager and Application specialist with Syngenta as well as FSOOTY head judge adds: “Simon has an easy-going nature and willingness to explain what he is doing with a high degree of confidence and enthusiasm. It’s an example of best practice the whole industry needs to take on board to improve the public perception of what UK Agriculture is all about.”
Simon covers about 12,000ha/year, operating a Sands Horizon 5500, with 5,500-litre tank and 32m booms with an AgLeader Integral rate controller, auto-section control, mapping and Norac boom levelling. His work takes him to nine different sites, spread over an area of 55 miles north to south and 20 miles from east to west.
“This means I need to be very self-contained,” he explains. “With the distances involved I have to have everything I possibly need close to hand. Fortunately the Sands has really good storage lockers on the outside. These are big enough to hold everything I need.”
Operating at many different locations means he seldom has a bunded area in which to fill. So at each site he keeps large drums he places under the induction hopper and overflow as well another to hold all the filling kit – measuring jugs etc. Helpfully, the hopper’s lid also has an integral draining rack.
For his independent operation Simon employs a range of other practical ideas, such as fitting two large drainage pipes on the boom to carry the filling hoses. “I can’t leave them on site in case they get damaged or stolen. I have one on each side to ensure the boom stays balanced and stable,” he explains.
Inside the lockers he carries a spill kit and a comprehensive spare parts store, that even contains puncture repair strips for temporary tyre repairs to keep him going until he can get them repaired.
To speed up filling and prevent mistakes he uses a large selection of measuring jugs for different products. This allows him to measure and dispense the part cans and set out the load around the induction hopper in one go. After double-checking the list he can then add them to the mix in the correct order.
Find out more about the FSOOTY champion’s operation in the Autumn issue of Pro Operator.