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Annual SPRAY awards up for grabs

Last year’s SPRAY Awards national winner, Doug Clark, from northern Tasmania at work CROP protection giant, Syngenta, has launched another search for Australia’s most Sustainable, Productive, Responsible Applicator of the Year (SPRAY).

The SPRAY Awards, run jointly by Syngenta and Rural Press aim to recognise agriculture’s outstanding spray equipment operators, offering a major $15,000 study tour to Britain as first prize, plus secondary State awards.

“Regardless of whether your farm is big or small, you work for yourself or someone else or whether you’re a ground rig operator or aerial sprayer, these awards are open to you,” said chief judge, Garth Wickson.

Now in their third year, the SPRAY Awards have previously attracted entries from a variety of applicators, from vegetable growers to rig operators employed on corporate farms.

Last year’s national title was collected by Tasmanian spray contractor and Mersey Valley farmer, Doug Clark, who is due to embark on his overseas study tour mid-year.

The contracting partnership operated with his wife, Jodie is based around Devonport in northern Tasmania with spray jobs varying from broadacre pastures and poppies for the pharmaceutical market, to potato, carrot, pea and turnip crops.

The 2010 runners up were South Australia’s Andrew Kennedy and northern NSW’s Peter Farrell.

This year judges anticipate a rise in entries from aerial sprayers following a return to wetter seasonal conditions and a big rise in demand for aerial fungicide, herbicide and insect control chemical applications across eastern Australia’s cropping belt.

Big cotton plantings this summer wee expected to keep fuelling strong demand for aerial work in coming months said Mr Wickson, who is Syngenta’s Victoria and southern NSW technical services leader.

“Aerial spraying brings its own challenges and benefits, but regardless of whether you’re spraying on the ground or by air, it’s still essential to do it sustainably, productively and responsibly,” he said.

“The one thing all awards entrants tend to have in common is a commitment to embracing best practice strategies to achieve more consistent results.

“They’ve also discovered this approach enables them to safely and effectively spray under a wide range of conditions, giving them far greater flexibility.”

As in previous years, SPRAY Awards judges will examine the best practice strategies and methods used.

“Planning and record keeping will be important as well as good knowledge of integrated pest management principles, risk management, occupational health and safety requirements and application technology,” Mr Wickson said.

“We also encourage previous entrants to enter again. We’re keen to see how they have improved since the last judging.”

To get involved entrants must fill out the official entry form in this week’s issue, or download an entry from 老域名syngenta老域名备案老域名 .

After reviewing the submissions, judges will conduct on-farm visits with finalists in each State, with State winners invited to the national awards ceremony at the big Commonwealth Bank AgQuip field days at Gunnedah in northern NSW in August.

The national winner’s study trip to the UK is designed to help increase knowledge about the spray industry, overseas trends and allow the recipient to share experiences with global experts.

Last year’s awards winner, Mr Clark, said it was “a real buzz” to have received the spray industry’s top “tick of approval” and to know the work he provided his clients was spot on.

“Our focus on the little details was one of the reasons the judges gave us the award. It’s nice to know our efforts have paid off,” he said.

Mr Clark is looking forward visiting Syngenta facilities in Britain and learning more from others working with seed crops.

Syngenta, with more than 25,000 employees in more than 90 countries, has world-class scientific research facilities and a global product reach directed at improving crop productivity and environmental protection.

The 2009 SPRAY winner, Victorian horticulture grower, Darren Schreurs, spent his study tour visiting UK farms and spray gear manufacturers as well as meeting Syngenta specialists.

“It was fascinating to see what other people are doing and what ideas we could bring back. The trip also reinforced the importance of the safety procedures we follow,” he said.

Entries for the 2011 SPRAY Awards are open until March 21.

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