Doug Clark took out the 2010 title after impressing judges with his contract spraying operation in Tasmania. Doug covers about 8,000 hectares per year in crops ranging from pyrethrum and poppies to seed brassicas and potatoes. His focus on quality and getting the product to the target were key factors in his win.
His prize was a $15,000 study tour of the UK, tailored to reflect Doug’s areas of interest.
He and his wife Jodie jetted off to the UK in May for a two part trip that included meeting Steve Lake, the winner of the UK’s premier sprayer award, FSOOTY (Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year).
“Steve was really good to talk to and it was great to see that he has all the same issues and challenges that we do, from spray drift and nozzle choice to paperwork and resistance issues with chemicals,” said Doug.
“He had some interesting ideas, like putting all the safety phone numbers and emergency contacts on his boom for easy access. Meeting Steve showed that we are on the right track with what we’re doing. It’s all about accuracy and getting the products into the right place.”
Doug and Jodie also got to tour vegetable growing farms and visit Syngenta’s UK research facility at Jealott’s Hill, where they encountered some huge insects and viewed some interesting research projects. One involved a machine that electronically monitors aphid feeding.
“As an outsider you’ve got no idea what goes on in product research. To see what actually happens is incredible. As a grower, it was great to see how it works. The researchers are actually spending each day trying to solve real problems that growers face, they’re not just blindly trying to come up with products,” said Doug.
“You don’t realise the investment of time and money that goes into solving grower-focused problems until you see it firsthand. Normally you don’t think twice about what’s gone into developing these products.
“Syngenta’s work in breeding pests like aphids for research was amazing and seeing the insect houses and even the hothouses where they’re growing things like sugar cane was phenomenal.”
During the second part of the trip, Doug attended the FSOOTY Award presentation dinner and other industry events.
“The opportunity to travel overseas and get a deeper appreciation for what companies like Syngenta do is invaluable. I was also able to take a side trip to Germany to see some new sprayers and how they’re built, which was useful since we’re thinking about buying some new machinery,” said Doug.
Doug and Jodie are now back in Tasmania, where Doug is looking forward to applying some of his new expertise to deliver even better results for his clients and on his own farm.
Syngenta is one of the world's leading companies with more than 26,000 employees in over 90 countries dedicated to the purpose of Bringing plant potential to life. Through world-class science, global reach and commitment to customers, Syngenta helps to increase crop productivity, protect the environment and improve health and quality of life. For more information visit www.syngenta.com.au.
Caption: Syngenta's Educational Liaison Officer, Jim Morton, and 2010 SPRAY Awards winner, Doug Clark, check out a Hissing Cockroach at Jealott's Hill.