National agronomy services business Hutchinsons has launched its own degree standard agronomy training scheme – Professional Adviser – which it says raises the bar to a new level for in-house agronomy training.

The UK’s first national Level 6 Degree agronomy programme for the industry-specific Professional Adviser Standard qualification is now part of the three-year Hutchinsons Foundation training scheme for new agronomists. The company says the significant investment involved demonstrates its commitment to training its personnel to the very highest standards.

The development of the Professional Adviser Standard was led by Hutchinsons training manage Paul Hobson as the Trailblazer Chair for the across-industry group supporting its creation. He says the scheme, which has been tailored to meet the high standards associated with agronomic advice, takes 30 months to complete and can be adopted by all companies in the agronomy sector.

“The farmer of the future is going to need an agronomist who understands everything up and down the supply chain – from soil microbiology to biodiversity, precision farming, aspects of farm business management as well as a focus on culture and behaviours,” explains Mr Hobson.

“Also, in these days of higher environmental standards and diminishing numbers of active ingredients the agronomist must be fully aware of every possible action to solve any particular problem. In short, a successful agronomist needs more than just BASIS, FACTS and BETA-Conservation training in order to service their clients so that farm businesses remain profitable and sustainable.

“As a business we need to ensure that our agronomists are best placed to offer the very highest level of service – and the Professional Adviser programme puts us in the unique position to do just this.”

Mr Hobson notes that Hutchinsons has several apprenticeship programmes operating across the business for personnel working in the warehouses, logistics, office administration and as drivers – “so investing in people is nothing new”.

• The Hutchinsons Foundation is now ten years old and has seen 85 agronomists graduate through the programme over the period. Six trainees have enrolled for the 2020 intake.