Rob Sheets - Arable Agronomist

A day in the life

Who are you and what is your role at Agrovista?

Hi, I’m Rob Sheets and I’m an arable agronomist here at Agrovista. I’m based in Northamptonshire, but also cover South Leicestershire and North Cambridgeshire. In addition, I am part of the Agrovista seed team, helping colleagues from Lincolnshire down to Hertfordshire with all things seed.

How did you get into your current role at Agrovista?

I am not from a farming background, but as there was a farm in the village where I grew up, it was inevitable that I gravitated towards it – I can’t really explain why! I started working there when I was about 14, spent a lot of time chucking conventional bales around and soon decided that whatever career I pursued, it had to involve farming.

I completed a BSc Hons in Land management with Agriculture at Moulton College, and spent a few years working on two large farms in Northamptonshire. It was whilst being a sprayer operator on these farms that I developed an interest in Agronomy, encouraged by the farmer I worked for who is BASIS qualified. Having been accepted on to Agrovista’s trainee programme six years ago, I couldn’t stay away from practical farm work, so return each year during harvest to keep my hand in.

What does your job typically involve?

There is no typical really! Primarily I am walking crops and giving agronomy advice to my customers, but the range of advice and topics is wide: Soil health, cover crops, nutrition, soil sampling and precision, variety selection, cultivations, plant protection products and of course the weather! Most of my day is spent in the car, in a field or in a farmyard, evenings in peak season are spent at my laptop completing recommendations and ordering products where required. I’ll also be helping colleagues with all aspects of seed for combinable crops, grass seed, cover crops, forage and stewardship mixes.

What is the best part of your job?

I love that no two days are the same and the autonomy of my role gives me the freedom to do what is most important – giving my customers the best technical advice and value. There is nothing better in this job than helping a customer grow a crop which delivers a decent harvest and returns them the best profit. Innovation is key to Agrovista’s ethos, and I really enjoy bringing something new to my customers. For example, our trial site Project Lamport has been central to a lot of the advice I give to customers and has been a gateway to improving soil heath with cover crops and cultivations on farm.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I’d firstly add the weather into this category! The industry is changing rapidly, with new challenges appearing all the time. The focus on soil health is coming to the forefront of many conversations and we know we cannot rely on plant protection products. Offering a range of solutions to problems is challenging, but both rewarding and crucial if we are to carry on growing arable crops in this country. There is a lot of doom and gloom at the moment with Brexit, commodity prices, weather and phasing out of BPS – but I think there will be some exciting opportunities for farmers and I am committed to helping my customers adapt and thrive in their businesses.