The UK's top amenity sprayer operators have been recognised with the inaugural Amenity Sprayer Operator of the Year Awards.
Sponsored by Syngenta and ICL (formerly Everris), the winners of this prestigious competition were announced at the Amenity Forum Conference in Leicester.
The Awards have highlighted the exceptional skills and experience of all those involved, to demonstrate best practice for effective results and, above all, safe spray application in amenity situations.
Winners and runners-up of the three categories judged were:
Sports and Amenity Turf using a Boom Sprayer
Winner - Andrew Kerr, West Malling Golf Club, Kent
Runner up - James Wright, Leeds University, Yorkshire
Hard and Porous Surfaces using Vehicle Mounted Equipment
Winner - Adam Bell JSD R&D, Yorkshire
Runner up - James Muir, K. Imrie Treecare
Hard and Porous Surfaces or Invasive Weed Species using Hand-Held Equipment
Winner - Daniel Clarke DTMS Group, Yorkshire
Runner up - Ian Haworth, S H Goss & Co., Cambridgeshire
Winner of the amenity turf boom sprayer category, Andrew Kerr from West Malling Golf Course in Kent, was praised by the judges for incorporating new technology into his spraying operation to ensure accurate application. The whole course has been GPS mapped, coupled to GPS equipment on the sprayer to ensure only the targeted areas are sprayed, to minimise use and waste. Fitting new Syngenta XC Nozzle technology has minimised risk of drift losses and achieve better application on the target.
Already a highly experienced sprayer operator, Andrew was also praised for his ongoing commitment to education and training, including gaining BASIS Foundation Award and BIGGA Master Greenkeeper qualifications. The judges were particularly impressed by his skills in practical application techniques and his innovation to design and modify the filling site and wash-bay optimised for safety, speed and ease of working.
In the category for hard and porous surface application, winner Adam Bell, of Yorkshire-based JSD R&D Ltd, was commended for his exceptional approach to detail and utilising innovative treatment techniques. Sprayers have been fitted with the capability to adjust the boom to avoid drift, with a flow meter for chemical injection into a clean water line, and sensors for spot weed treatment.
Daniel Clarke, of the DTMS Group and winner of the application using hand held equipment award, was exemplified for the Yorkshire-company's safe dealing with chemical washings and containers, to eliminate risk of spillages, along with excellent chemical store management. Both DTMS and JSD R&D are members of the Amenity Assured scheme.
Amenity Forum Chairman, Professor John Moverley, said: "The ASOOTY Awards has judged all aspects of amenity spraying, to identify the UK's very best operators. It is designed to share their skills and expertise across the industry.
"It has been evident that all the entrants have consistently shown outstanding skills and work to very high standards, to achieve the best possible results. The selected finalists have proved worthy winners by demonstrating that best practice can deliver efficient, cost effective and accurate amenity spraying."
Daniel Lightfoot, Syngenta UK Business Manager, said: "We recognise that the skills of the operator are paramount in achieving the best possible results from every application. In almost every instance the ASOOTY entrants have instigated ideas and practices to make the spraying process easier, more accurate and, ultimately, safer."
"The Awards are a welcome way to recognise and reward the leading individuals and to learn from their experience."
ICL UK Business Development Manager, Ed Carter, added: "We are delighted to support such an important cross-sector industry initiative, with a continued commitment to raise standards and improve results."
"Importantly it has identified and recognised the diversity of spray application techniques and the differing skills involved across the amenity sector. It will provide a unique and vitally important resource for all involved in spray application."
In addition to the ultimate accolade of Sprayer Operator of the Year in their category, each winner will receive a Go Pro Hero action video camera, along with £250 of training vouchers for further CPD, from sponsors Syngenta and ICL, as well as a year's free membership of the BASIS Amenity Training Register.