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  1. Tom Rowe took a chemistry degree knowing that he would have options for a range of career paths when he left university. “I wasn’t sure when I went to University if a career in agriculture was for me, so I opted for a science subject that would be highly regarded and leave my options open.” It was during Tom’s course that he began thinking about a career in agronomy as it encompassed his degree and agricultural background having grown up and worked on the family farm. Once the decision to be an agronomist had been made, he looked at various options for joining the industry and securing the best training.
    “The technical nature of the role appealed, so I looked at training programmes and that’s how I came across the Hutchinsons Foundation. The comprehensive three year programme covers all aspects of the skills needed to become a successful agronomist, not just the BASIS and FACTS training, but also days out with agronomists and training from across the industry, alongside technical knowledge, business skills, marketing, IT and interpersonal skills management - everything that a successful agronomist needs to be able to develop long term relationships with farmer clients.”

    hlh foundation group present and past members 2015 web

    Alice Cannon is an enthusiastic agricultural graduate who began considering agronomy whilst at Newcastle University. “I guess the path was clearer for me as my Mum is an agronomist – and once I knew that this was what I wanted to do the big decision was how to go about it and with whom.”
    Leading agronomy firms all offer training to some degree. But this varies greatly – and for Alice it was the formalised programme of training and support across three years that attracted her to the Hutchinsons Foundation. “I start this September and am already helping out with regional technical demonstration centres this summer.
    During the Foundation course, participants choose a specialist project, bringing together past and present interests alongside their training.

    For Ryan Came-Johnson, this really appealed as he was able to bring together his degree knowledge with his agronomy training. The son of a vegetable farmer, he was unsure if he wanted to study for a degree in Agriculture. However, whilst at the University of Lincoln studying bio-veterinary science his interest in agronomy developed. He identified the Foundation as the leading national agronomy programme though which he would not only receive the necessary technical training but critically the support of a successful company behind him to tackle and understand key issues.
    “I wanted to look specifically at the effect increased fungicide spend has on fodder crop yields and overall field value of the crop.”
    Now Ryan has been able to extend his research to look more specifically at the effects of sulphur on grass yields, fungicide and fertiliser rate effects on maize – the results of which he can use with his mixed-farming clients. “I’ve also looked at how the analysis also relates to feed value for anaerobic digestion.”

    Charles Wright was one of the first graduates to enter the formalised Foundation back in its inaugural year in 2011; armed with a Geography degree, but with a background in farming. Charles is now helping to train current Foundation agronomists and is keen to highlight the advantages of a career where you are responsible for your own time and recommendations. “Hutchinsons commit considerable resource to research and development. This ensures we are always at the cutting edge of the profession.”

    September 2015 will see the 60th trainee join the Foundation programme, and this is something we are understandably proud of, says Hutchinsons chairman David Hutchinson. “It’s very exciting to see the calibre of entrants that we are attracting from a wide spectrum of backgrounds into Agronomy. Irrespective of their education, all of our entrants have a passion for excellence that we can translate into the skills required to be a successful agronomist. This is something that we have been doing for the 75 years that Hutchinsons has been in business, and the Foundation is a formalised development of this.”
    “We recognise that times are challenging for UK farmers, but that in no way detracts from our commitment to the training and development of future agronomists. We believe, as an independent family business, that we are well placed to see this investment through to provide the industry with agronomists who have the strongest understanding of all aspects of farming, coupled with un-paralled agronomy skills.”

  2. Peter Brundle, Hutchinsons commercial seeds support, takes a look at the latest entrants to the HGCA Recommended List and gives his recommendations for varieties to sow this coming autumn.

    Winter Wheat
    Ten years ago the UK wheat market was focused on quality bread and biscuit making varieties and three quarters of the market was based on the marketability of wheat.  However, in recent years the market has been dominated by feed wheat varieties with lower quality characteristics which have challenged the country’s ability to export into an increasingly competitive European export market explains Mr Brundle.
     
    “We are starting to see a change back to wheats that combine high yields with good quality characteristics for both domestic and export markets and  all of this autumn’s new HGCA recommended varieties display these characteristics KWS Trinity (Group 1), KWS Lili (Group 2) Britannia and RGT Conversion (Group 3), Reflection and Costello (Group 4).”
     
    “Last autumn’s sowings saw a new trend towards more robust agronomic varieties with market share growth from Skyfall, Crusoe , Revelation, Leeds, JB Diego  and Evolution and we would expect these varieties to maintain their popularity this autumn. The variety Belepi has also proved popular with growers due to its wide drilling window and competitive growth habit.”

    Winter Barley
    Winter barley also saw an increase in popularity last season he says. “Feed varieties dominate this sector with the main choice between high yielding conventional two row varieties and the flexible six row hybrid’s.”

    KWS Infinity is the highest yielding two row barley on the recommended list joining the already popular Glacier and Tower, which are all Retriever x Cassia crosses. Hyvido Fletcher joins Hyvido Volume as a hybrid barley which performed exceptionally well in 2014. A wider sowing window coupled with vigorous and competitive growth characteristics should continue to prove popular with growers looking for effective grassweed control.

    Oilseed Rape
    Mr Brundle believes that the oilseed rape variety options have never been better, with new entrants from most major breeders offering diverse genetic options for growers this autumn.

    “The risks associated with establishing and producing an economic return from the crop are high and growers are advised to select from the newer options available to manage this risk. Vigorous establishing varieties that display good tolerance to LLS, Stem Canker and Verticillium Wilt should take precedence, “ he says.
     
    The new Hybrids – SY Harnas, Fencer, Popular and DK Exalte are all good choices but also consider the established Hybrids – Harper, Incentive, PT211 and PR46W21 are all sound choices.         
                 
    With regards to Conventionals, KWS Campus is the stand out new variety in this sector and has a recommendation for East/West and North regions.
    “If weed control is an issue then Dekalb and Pioneer have some effective Clearfield® variety choices including DK Imperial and PT229CL.”
    “With increasing concerns around the threat from TuYV, the gross output results from the conventional variety Amalie will be interesting, as the full benefits of its unique TuYV resistance should be more readily quantifiable.”
     
    All of the above varieties are fully detailed in Hutchinsons new ‘Seed & Varieties Information Book’ which can be ordered from the website www.hutchinsons.co.uk