Richard Harris, a 26-year-old agronomist from Bartholomews, has been awarded the prestigious BASIS Barrie Orme Shield for excelling in the Certificate in Crop Protection.
Richard explains that growing up on the family arable farm in South Devon sparked his passion for farming, so a degree at Harper Adams seemed a natural pathway.
“As part of my studies, I spent a placement year working on a mixed farm in Hampshire to broaden my practical knowledge. Here, it quickly became clear that agronomy was the area I wanted to specialise in,” he says.
“Shortly after graduating in 2015, I enrolled in the Bartholomews academy graduate scheme. Throughout this time, I gained experience in every sector of the business, including seed, grain, fertiliser and agronomy.
“During the agronomy rotation I participated in BASIS training to develop my understanding of crop protection and how each different aspect can complement one another, for sustainable long-term production,” says Richard.
As part of the qualification, each candidate is required to carry out an independent research project. Richard chose to base his on the control of blackgrass in spring barley, using Integrated Pest Management techniques (IPM) to reach 97% control.
“This involved trialling eight different pre-emergent herbicides, in tandem with cultural controls, on a site with a very high blackgrass population.
“I found that using a pre-emergent combination of pendimethalin and flufenacet on a crop of spring barley, drilled at a high seed rate, gained the best levels of control. This meant the autumn flush of blackgrass was missed, allowing the crop to outcompete the suppressed weed population.
“This highlighted the importance of an integrated approach, implementing cultural methods and cropping patterns before using pesticide application as the final piece in a complex jigsaw,” he says.
With the Crop Protection Certificate in hand, as well as FACTS and Crop Inspecting qualifications, Richard completed the Bartholomews graduate scheme and is now practicing as a full-time agronomist in the South West.
“I’m delighted to be selected for the award, which is always hotly contended for. The training suited me to a tee, with experienced trainers, in-field and laboratory sessions as well as classroom-based learning.”
Richard hopes to continue to build on his career by enrolling in the esteemed BASIS Diploma in Agronomy in the future.