Plant protection award secured by agronomist

Kylie Borchardt, a baby-leaf agronomist at Langmead Farms, has won an award that recognises excellence in plant protection.

The annual Barrie Orme Award goes to the best candidate in the BASIS crop protection certificate exams. Defra parliamentary under secretary of state Lord Bryan Davies of Oldham awarded the prize.

Borchardt's duties include crop walking, spraying, irrigation and the assured-produce audit as well as evaluating new baby-leaf varieties and reviewing crop protection strategies at the West Sussex firm.

She undertook safety trials with wild rocket herbicides. The loss of chemicals, particularly herbicides, due to EU regulations was a real problem for specialist crops such as the firm's, she said.

"From next season we are going to have to resort to established techniques involving soil sterilisation and fumigation, which in my view are far more damaging to the soil and the environment than the herbicides we have been using."

David Godsmark and Ian Gillott were trainers and course attendees completed two week-long blocks of lectures in the winter months and sat written and oral exams.

Runners-up for the award were Vicky Brooks, an agronomist with UAP in North Essex, and Nic Drever-Smith, who farms 142ha of combinable crops near York.

BASIS managing director Rob Simpson said: "It is encouraging to see young talent doing so well in the BASIS exam."


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