Selwyn Rees is the Agronomist of the Year

Article taken from the Agronomist & Arable Farmer, written by Chris Lyddon

Selwyn Rees, agronomist at Agrovista UK Ltd, was named winner of the Agronomist of the Year category, sponsored by DuPont (UK) of the Food and Farming Industry Awards, beating impressive competition with a broad view of the industry’s needs and how to make farming work in an ever more complicated environment.

“Selwyn is an enthusiastic advocate of crop protection in conjunction with integrated farm management,” said Georgina Clayton, senior registration representative at DuPont, who is one of the award’s three judges with economist Sean Rickard and Farm Business editor Chris Lyddon.  “He has a clear vision of progressive farming techniques, said the judges, and is keen to help growers reduce the risk to their business by maximising the profitability and sustainability of their enterprises.  Selwyn is technically focussed, proactive and professional, a worthy winner.”

“Having grown up on an arable farm, I have always had an enthusiasm for crop production, machinery and all things agricultural,” Mr Rees says.  “Following my studies at Harper Adams, I returned home in 1994 and managed the family farm for eight years, during which I attended agronomy training courses delivered by Dr Chris Green of CMI.  Implementing the progressive crop production techniques acquired on these courses greatly developed my interest in agronomy.”

After his brother and parents emigrated to Manitoba, he spent five years managing an organic farm on the North Downs. 

“Although a contrast to my earlier experience, gaining an understanding of crop production without the benefit of inorganic fertilisers and crop protection products has proved invaluable,” he says.  While in Kent he attained FACTS, BASIS with ICM and BETA qualifications, with a view to enhancing his career opportunities through continued professional development.

After moving to Norfolk in 2008, Mr Rees began working for Agrovista based at Great Ellingham.  To further develop his technical knowledge, he attained a Soil and Water Management Certificate, Advanced Cereals Module and Plant Protection Award, allowing him to achieve a Basis Diploma in Agronomy.  He is also about to undertake an Advanced Sugar Beet Technology Award, which will enable him to ultimately attain a Harper Adams University College Diploma in Agronomy.

“I service the agronomy needs of 42 clients in South Norfolk and North Suffolk, walking in the region of 15,000 acres,” he says.  Their crops include cereals, oilseeds, pulses, sugar beet and grass.  “I offer my clients advice on incorporating agri-environmental schemes and practices into their systems, produce nutrient and manure management plans, and advise on soil protection reviews and cross compliance.”

He is a proficient user of PC-based Crop Walker and was recently involved in trialling and providing feedback on Muddy Boots’ Greenlight Grower Management system. 

“I’m one of 10 agronomists trialling Agrovista’s new cloud-based technical information exchange system (Axis), which allows agronomy and precision farming data to be uploaded and shared in real time with advisers, agronomists, operators and contractors,” he says.

When operated on farm with Axis, the GLGM iPad app will reduce the double entry of data, enabling a seamless flow of information between the key people involved in a modern agricultural business. The MapIT Pro app provides the precision mapping element of Axis.

Mr Rees believes in employing cultural and biological techniques to reduce the environmental impact of his work, while promoting the responsible use of plant protection products, achieved through observing thresholds, appropriate product choice and application advice.  “My previous organic farming experience taught me that nature can have a way of remedying the imbalance before intervention is necessary,” he says.  He also promotes industry-led initiatives such as the Voluntary Initiative and the Campaign for the Farmed Environment, as well as the Government’s Catchment Sensitive Farming scheme.

“Together with an RSPB officer, I was fortunate to deliver farm tours on Open Farm Sunday 2014, identifying the environmental benefits of the HLS and ELS schemes, in conjunction with the voluntary measures employed by the host farmer.  This was a great opportunity to engage with the general public and demonstrate the value of a holistic approach to modern farming achieved through integrated farm management.” says Mr Rees.

He also supports and mentors Agrovista graduate trainees throughout their training and beyond.  “I’m passionate when it comes to passing on my knowledge and experience, as I’ve benefitted from the experience of others,” Mr Rees concludes.  

 

18 March 2015

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