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Stackyard News Nov 06

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Horticulturalist is Best BASIS Candidate 2006

For the first time in its six year history a horticulturalist has been awarded the coveted Barrie Orme Shield. Russ Woodcock was named the best candidate in this year’s BASIS certificate in crop protection exams and presented with the Shield at a ceremony in London on 7 November.

Left to right at the BASIS Barrie Orme Shield presentation: Rob Simpson managing director BASIS, David Godsmark training provider and winner Russ Woodcock Findons.

BASIS Barrie Orme Shield

Russ also received a cash prize and vouchers for a weekend break for two. He was delighted with the award. It’s a tough qualification to get. I was just pleased to hear I’d passed and never expected to be the best candidate,” he said.

Runners-up were UAP trials manager Paul Beech who is based in Kent and Andrew Flind now a development agronomist with Bayer CropScience but at the time of taking the BASIS exam he worked as technical project manager for horticultural suppliers, The Scotts Company. The Awards are generously supported by Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC), C & J Supplies and Nufarm UK Ltd.

Making the presentation Caroline Drummond chief executive of LEAF congratulated Russ on his achievement. “It is ten years since BASIS and LEAF first worked together. Over that time things have moved on dramatically. There is so much more now to consider in weed pest and disease control. Knowledge of chemicals and how to use them is important but so is an understanding of alternative strategies. This is an area where horticulturalists have much to teach farmers.”

Russ, 32, is technical coordinator for Findons, a family company and one of the biggest commercial growers of plug plants in the UK. Findons has 23 acres of glass on four sites and employs 100 people (rising to 200-250 at time of peak seasonal demand) in and around Stratford on Avon in Warwickshire. “As an Investor in People training is important to us,” explains Findon’s training coordinator Malcolm Tanner. “For many years we have developed key members of staff to achieve the BASIS qualification. It’s part of our commitment to meeting the BOPP (British Ornamental Plant Producers) Grower Scheme quality standard.”

Russ completed the training provided by David Godsmark in a concentrated three month period involving four intensive residential courses as well as practical course work. He chose The Use of Indicator Plants for the Monitoring and Control of White Fly in Poinsettias as his research project which forms a key part of the BASIS certificate.

Married to Angela with a two year old son Jamie, Yorkshireman Russ is a graduate of Askham Bryan and Pershore Colleges. He joined Findons in 2000 becoming pest and disease coordinator in 2004; a role which has now evolved into technical coordinator and covers water quality and sourcing, plant nutrition and good growing practice as well as pest and disease identification, control and training.

Russ came top out of 224 candidates who sat the BASIS qualification this year. The selection process for the top candidate is rigorous as BASIS managing director Rob Simpson explains, “The BASIS exam panels are asked to put forward those candidates whom they feel meet the high standards required for this award. Trainers’ views are also sought and short-listed candidates are then interviewed on the phone. Clearly a candidate’s performance in the exam is also important although it is not essential to achieve the best score to be judged the best overall candidate.”

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