A Dorset farmer has won a prestigious award as one of the UK’s top farm sprayer operators.

John Martin, who farms at Milborne St Andrew, near Blandford, was presented his award as the Regional Winner of the Syngenta Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year (FSOOTY) at the International Sprays and Sprayers event last week.

Mr Martin is a highly experienced sprayer operator and previous winner of the Regional FSOOTY Award.

He covers a diverse range of crops on the farm, including cereals and oilseed rape.

The judges were impressed by John’s skills in practical application techniques and the farm’s investment in a purpose-built covered filling area.

The site is fully compliant with requirements to protect water quality in a catchment sensitive area, whilst its design has also made filling the sprayer faster and more efficient. John said: “It’s a tough competition. There are a lot of really good people in the competition that take part.

“I got to the final two years ago as well. The harder you work the luckier you get.”

After winning two regional awards in such quick succession, John now has ambitions of becoming the national winner.

He said: “I spoke to one of the judges and he said I wasn’t far away from it and to keep going.

“I have met a lot of very good people along the way and I never stop learning.

“I keep bumping into people that know more than I know.

“It’s quite often the simple things that make the biggest difference.”

As part of his approach, John said they were keen to maintain and protect the environment.

Ben Magri, Syngenta application specialist, said: “The FSOOTY Awards judges all aspects of farm spraying to identify the very best operators across the UK, and to share their skills and expertise.

“John has consistently shown outstanding skills and works to very high standards.

“He has proved a worthy winner by demonstrating that best practice can deliver efficient, cost effective and, above all, safe crop spraying.

“Syngenta recognises that the skills of the sprayer operator are paramount in achieving the potential from all our crop protection products.”