New operator makes FSOOTY finals first time
Martyn Smith, is a relative newcomer to spraying, having only qualified three years ago. Today he is responsible for most of the applications on 1,800ha of arable crops at Ratcheugh Farm, near Alnwick with a 32m, Sands Horizon 4000.
Even though he wasn’t yet qualified, he was encouraged to apply for a position as sprayer operator and was pleased to get the job, he says. “After taking the PA1 and PA2, and with the help of the manager and a work colleague, I have learned a lot on the job and from other training courses,” he explains.
Approaching the work with a fresh mind, he is always open to try new ideas and make improvements where needed. Indeed, his attitude is encapsulated in a sign he put up in his store that says: ‘Complacency ruins perfection.’
“Spraying involves routine and repetitive tasks, which make it easy to get complacent. Planning and preparation prevents mistakes. When I was gaining experience I put in place plans to help me. For example I write down a ‘shopping’ list for every load, stack it on a pallet in order it will go in then remove the caps of all the full containers. If I don’t need a full container, I unscrew the cap but leave it on, to remind me it needs measuring,” he adds.
Martyn has also made many adaptations to his sprayer to make the job easier and more efficient, including mud flap extensions, which are easily removed from the rear – simply sliding off when not in use.
“I found that while they stopped the mud from causing nozzles to block, in rape they were getting caught and causing damage. So I simply made them quick release so I can take them off,” he explains.
He has also fitted cameras to the boom that, when unfolded, allow him to spot any blocked nozzles under the back frame, which you can’t see from the cab. When he’s travelling on the road they face backwards so he can see behind the machine.