Home' Grower : April 2010 Contents The South Australian Grower -- April 2010 7
Darren Schreurs, a vegetable grower from Devon Meadows near Melbourne, claimed the
inaugrual SPRAY award last year. The hunt for Australia's best farm spray operator is on again this
year, with entries closing April 15.
Search begins for spray king
THE quest to find Australia's best
farm spray operator is on again, with
the winner receiving a $15,000 study
tour of the United Kingdom.
Launched last year, the Sustainable,
Productive, Responsible Applicator of the Year
awards -- sponsored by Syngenta and Rural
Press -- aims to showcase best practice in the
application of chemicals across a range of crops.
Farm chemicals are a vital tool for modern
agriculture but they need to be applied as
carefully and efficiently as possible to ensure
their use does not impact on neighbouring
crops and the environment.
The state finalists will win a trip to this
year's Ag-Quip field days on August 17-19
at Gunnedah, in north western New South
Wales, where the national winner will be
Darren Schreurs, a vegetable grower from
Devon Meadows near Melbourne, claimed
the inaugrual SPRAY award last year.
Mr Schreurs was chosen from a pool of
120 round one entries, 15 state finalists and
the eventual five state winners.
He narrowly beat NSW state winner, Evan
Lord -- assistant manager of "Mukoora", an
8500-hectare mixed farm near Ardlethan in
the Riverina -- to take the top prize.
Third was Andrew Kennedy who runs a
spray contracting business, Kennedy
Spraying Ser vices, at Mount Gambier.
Judging panel member Garth Wickson
said the judges had been impressed that Mr
Schreurs had achieved such a high level of
professionalism "off his own bat" and had
invested so heavily in improving chemical
storage, use and safety while working with-
in a relatively small family business.
He said the juges also had been impressed
with the number of high-calibre entrants in
the competition and admitted the task of
picking a national winner had been tough.
Fellow judge John Kentfrom the the School
of Agricultural and Wine Sciences at Charles
Sturt University, said competition between
the top entrants had been "very close".
Professor Kent said Mr Schreurs had dis-
played a good knowledge of integrated pest
management principles, risk management,
application technology, occupational health
and safety, and showed excellent record
keeping and safety procedures.
Another judge, University of Queensland
Centre for Pesticide Application Safety
operations manager Peter Hughes was
impressed that Mr Schreurs had made such
a significant investment in spray equip-
ment, safety and storage facilities, given
the size of his operation.
"Even though his property wasn't as big as
some of the other entrants, Darren had a lot
of complexity to deal with," Mr Hughes said.
"Without a doubt, this was best practice at
its best and I hope that many others will
learn a lot from Darren's experiences."
Mr Schreurs works on his family-run veg-
etable farm, Peter Schreurs and Sons, at
Devon Meadows about 50 kilometres south-
east of Melbourne.
The farm grows a number of vegetable
lines including leeks, baby cos lettuce, baby
endive, baby wombok, radicchio, parsnips
and kohl rabi, with about 140 of their 160
hectares sprayed each year.
The business has plans to continue plant-
ing hedge rows to minimise potential drift
into untargeted areas.
"We are also fully committed to the imple-
mentation of IPM principles," Mr Schreurs
said. "One of the principles of IPM that we
follow is to identify potential pests before
they become a problem."
Entries for the 2010 SPRAY awards close
on April 15.
Details: 1800 776 543
Best practice promoted
Prize includes UK study tour
Inaugural award 'very close'
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