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NORTH EAST CROP EXPERT WINS PRESTIGIOUS AWARD

A North East crop researcher and trainee agronomist has scooped a prestigious award for her outstanding agronomy knowledge.

Jodie Littleford, who is based in East Yorkshire and who works for agronomy firm ProCam, has been awarded the Barrie Orme Shield.

This is presented just once a year to the most outstanding candidate passing the BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection and Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Typically, more than 200 people a year sit this exam, which is a required certificate of competence for anyone who sells or advises on crop protection products, explains independent BASIS-approved trainer, James Christian-Ilett, who trained Jodie. BASIS is the examining and awarding body for qualifications for agronomists, he notes.

On hearing the news she had won the award Jodie said: “I am absolutely over the moon; very pleased. It’s a great achievement which is recognised across the industry, so I’m grateful and honoured to be this year’s recipient.”

Involved in a full-time crop science career since graduating from Cardiff University with a Biology degree in 2016, Jodie originally worked for an agricultural research organisation before joining ProCam two years ago.

Since then, she has been responsible for around 2,500 trial plots each year – managing research and development at ProCam’s main trials hub at The Stockbridge Technology Centre, Cawood in Yorkshire, plus overseeing other ProCam trials stretching from Aberdeen to Devon.

Jodie continued: “With the growing issues of resistant weeds, pests and diseases that farming currently faces, we cannot solve all crop problems purely by spraying. We need to be more creative about what we do. We need a much more integrated approach.”

In line with this, Jodie’s trials have focused not only on evaluating crop protection inputs but also on how these can be combined with other agronomic practices, such as growing more resistant varieties and adjusting crop planting date to reduce weed, pest and disease pressures. Evaluation of the practical use of environmentally-beneficial cover crops for improving soil health has also formed part of Jodie’s experiments. It is this combination of integrated techniques that she believes helped with her qualification.

“I thoroughly enjoy working outside, observing and studying biological interactions. When I joined ProCam I realised I had the opportunity to carry on indulging my interest in biology, while putting this to good use helping farmers,” Jodie concludes.