Sally grew up on the 350 acre, all arable family farm near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire where she developed a passion for crops and agronomy. She gained a first class degree in crop science at Sutton Bonington, University of Nottingham in 2015. During her degree course she undertook eight months work in Australia. Shadowing agronomists ‘down under’ on such issues as drought tolerant and nitrogen efficient wheat and barley varieties reinforced Sally’s passion for arable farming and agronomy.
For the past two years she has participated in the Hutchinson Foundation, run by crop production specialists Hutchinsons. The Foundation has now trained some 60 future agronomists and gaining BASIS qualifications is part of the training.
“I see BASIS training as an essential stepping stone to building a career in agronomy,” says Sally. “The course provides an insight into the principles which underpin successful crop production.”
James Christian Illett was the BASIS accredited trainer who helped Sally through the course, which included a dissertation on a specialist topic. Her chosen topic was to examine the current options for slug control in oilseed rape.
“I recognised that effective slug control is one of the challenges that oilseed rape growers face nowadays and that challenge is being made harder by the increasing pressure to minimise pesticides entering water courses,” says Sally.
Sally returned to the family farm for her dissertation to undertake whole field trials on the current materials available for slug control. Her aim was to compare the efficacy and longevity of the two main options – metaldehyde and ferric oxide.
“Essentially, I set out to see if ferric phosphate is an effective alternative to metaldehyde,” she explains. “From my trials, I established they are equally effective. Therefore, ferric phosphate is a suitable alternative with a much better environmental profile that will reduce the risk of metaldehyde causing spikes in water sources.”
With the basic BASIS qualification under her belt, Sally has already gone on to take FACTS training on crop nutrition and, as we went to press, was eagerly awaiting the results of her FACTS examination.
“I really enjoyed the course. I find crop nutrition fascinating and also recognise that there is much more to learn about the topic.”
More training is high on Sally’s agenda and she is determined to achieve the BASIS Diploma, although she recognises that it will take three or four years.
“Sally is typical of the new breed of agronomists coming into the industry,” said Stephen Jacob, BASIS Chief Executive. “A real enthusiasm not just for learning, but also for developing practical skills that will help farmers to improved efficiency and enhance quality alongside environmental benefits.”