A Frontier Agriculture agronomist, Darren Cook, has achieved the BASIS Diploma in Agronomy qualification in just over two years – the fastest time since the qualification was introduced in 2004.
Mr Cook advises arable farmers across County Durham, Northumberland and Cumbria, from his base near Newcastle.
“Darren achieved his first BASIS qualification towards the Diploma on 13th September 2013 and his final module was completed on 18th December 2015,” says acting BASIS chief executive Stephen Jacob. “The Diploma holder closest to this timescale took a year longer. That’s incredibly impressive and would have required an enormous amount of hard work and dedication from him as well as the support he’s received from Frontier.”
Mr Cook adds: “It was a personal ambition of mine to pass my BASIS Diploma and I have really found it interesting. But the main reason I wanted to continue beyond the standard BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection was to broaden the advice that I can give to my farmer customers. It’s a big responsibility advising growers on their crops and the more knowledge I have, the better advice I’ll be able to give. Having Frontier’s support has been essential too – the company really values training and development, actively encouraged me to study for this and gave me the support, time and resources that I needed to complete the course. I’ve enjoyed studying for the Diploma so I might consider completing the Harper Adams Graduate Diploma next.”
Frontier says that 34 of its 140 agronomists hold the BASIS Diploma in Agronomy (24.3%), with more candidates studying towards it. The company claims this is the highest proportion of BASIS Diploma qualified agronomists in one business- there are 208 Diploma holders (3.6%) over the whole 5,839 strong BASIS Professional Register. members, a total of 208 (3.6%) hold the BASIS Diploma.
To achieve the Diploma, advisers must already hold the BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection and FACTS Certificate and then complete a number of additional courses and modules. These include: BETA (Biodiversity & Environmental Training for Advisers) or Certificate in Conservation Management; the Plant Protection Award (PPA); Soil and Water Management Certificate and either the Advanced Crop Module or the Advanced Nutrient Management Planning Module. Mr Cook chose the latter as his final module.