Independent standards setting and auditing organisation BASIS has awarded its 200th Diploma in Agronomy, the highest qualification it offers, since the Diploma was launched in 2004. The certificate went to Ben Chapman, an agronomist at Bishops Stortford-based Harlow Agricultural Merchants (HAM).
Candidates taking the qualification must complete at least six separate courses. The courses cover topics ranging from crop protection and nutrients to soil, water and conservation management. Students work at their own pace and can build on their increasing knowledge as there is no time restriction.
“We are delighted to have awarded our 200th Diploma in Agronomy,” states acting BASIS chief executive Stephen Jacob. “Ben is an excellent example of a growing number of agronomists seeking high-level professional qualifications. The increase in Diploma holders is testament to the industry’s dedication to improving standards. This should reassure legislators, the food chain and the general public that UK agriculture is going above and beyond what is required to act responsibly with regard to pesticides, ensuring future food security as well as the highest environmental standards.”
Mr Chapman advises growers in Essex and Hertfordshire on crop protection and nutrition as well as seed choice. He is the second HAM employee to complete the Diploma. Ben took six years to complete the required elements, starting with the BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection. He then went on to pass his FACTS Certificate, Seed Sellers’ Certificate, Advanced Crop Module in potatoes, Certificate in Conservation Management, Soil and Water Management Certificate, and the Plant Protection Award (PPA).
Commenting on his award Mr Chapman says: “The BASIS qualifications and courses I’ve taken are essential. They reassure my customers that I am well-informed about new legislation that could affect their businesses. It enables me to provide the highest level of advice, including topical information on matters such as conservation management.
“While the paper certificates for passing each course are important, it’s the knowledge gained that is essential. BASIS courses have provided an on-going challenge in the workplace, pushing me to further my knowledge and understanding. This benefits my customers as I’m able to provide a higher level of advice that so many are seeking.
“There is a growing global challenge for the agricultural sector which requires us to produce enough food to sustain an ever-increasing population. Agriculture is constantly evolving and I’m excited to be working with like-minded people who are pushing the boundaries of yield, while at the same time safeguarding our environment.”