Serving the Farming Industry across East Anglia for 35 Years
Mark Jelley of Brixworth Farming in Northamptonshire has been crowned Syngenta Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year. Mark Jelley is Sprayer Operator of the Year 2023

Mark Jelley of Brixworth Farming in Northamptonshire has been crowned Syngenta Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year.

Announced in the Sprays & Sprayers Arena at last month’s Cereals event, the annual award recognises and rewards the  skills and expertise of the UK’s top farm sprayer operators.

Mr Jelley has been operating sprayers for 45 years. He uses a state-of-the-art Chafer Interceptor self-propelled sprayer across 1,500ha of combinable crops on Brixworth Farming’s own land, plus an additional 500ha of contract farming.

Better results

Judges praised Mr Jelley’s willingness to help improve the skills of his colleagues on the farm – included sharing information and best practice to ensure they all work in the same way, generating better results.

“Having been a previous finalist, I was keen to give it another go,” said Mark. “It’s a good learning experience – entering the award is a good way to measure and further your knowledge, and to keep on learning.”

Experience

Syngenta application specialist Scott Cockburn, who organises the annual competition, said: “In one of the largest entries in recent years, this year’s finalists highlighted that experience counts because all of them had made the shortlist before.

“Everyone in the industry is aware of how plant protection products are under constant scrutiny. That’s why highly skilled, qualified and expert operators, who take seriously their continuous professional development, hold such an important position on farms.”

Best practice

The competition has shone a light on best practice for more than 30 years. During that time, there have been big advances in equipment and technology. But it still takes skill and knowledge to ensure products are applied accurately, safely and efficiently.

Judges assess operator skills, rather their machines and stores. “That’s illustrated by this year’s wide variety of equipment being employed by the finalists. It is, however, now noticeable how many farms, of all sizes, are now investing in modern filling areas, stores and water handling facilities.”

Other commended finalists included Peter Dennis of Sternberg Farms, Tenterden, Kent. With more than 40 years of spraying experience, he operates a John Deere R962i, treating 1,000ha of combinable crops.

Another previously short- listed finalist was also in this year’s line-up. Chris Hosking, is lead operator at Varfell Farms near Penzance, Cornwall.

Mr Hosking is responsible for crop protection applications on 1,600ha of land, including 41 million bunches of daffodils.