Thursday 8 September 2016

Introducing: CHRIS SMITH

I recently read an opinion piece in a farming paper questioning the credibility of some of the "informative" material that fills our letter boxes (and social media feeds) on a daily basis. And I think rightly so, as a reader and purchase decision maker I like to know how the person behind the insightful content became a knowledge source about it. And what is their relationship to the topic - do they have hands-on experience, have they studied in the field or been involved in research trials, is their role purely marketing a product or service or otherwise. Often this relationship is revealed, but not in every case.

This leads me to the motivation behind the series of posts to follow, as it may have been rather impolite of our H2Grow team not to have formally introduced ourselves and our many guest contributors we have tapped the shoulders of to cover topics that our core team are not intimately familiar with.

So without further adieu we would like to introduce Chris Smith...


Chris Smith - Operations Manager (Acting) for Agri Optics NZ Ltd
From 1988 to 1990 I attended Shuttleworth Agricultural College were I attained my Higher National Diploma (HND) in Agriculture. I followed this up with winning a scholarship with the John Edgar Trust for Farming’s Future Leaders in addition to my Fertiliser Advisers Certification (FACTS).

After studying at Shuttleworth Agricultural College I worked my way up the ladder in both the dairy and arable industry in the UK into farm management. When I left the UK in 2007 I was managing a 1800 ha estate in Berkshire which consisted of a large arable area, we also contract farmed the neighbours estates, ran numerous environmental schemes, and many non-farming enterprises!

It was here I attained my BASIS qualified in crop protection, integrated pest management plus bio-diversity and environmental training. Our team were early adopters of Precision Agriculture (PA) in the late 90’s, with grid soil sampling, variable rate inputs, using aerial imagery, information transfer and yield mapping.

The success of our farming team was recognised with many competition wins including Berkshire's Best Farmed Farm, Best Wheat, Barley and OSR Crops for several years. I was also chairman of the Berkshire Agricultural Training Board.

In 2007 I moved to NZ to manage an arable unit in Southbridge, where I learnt the differences between the UK and NZ farming. From there I moved out of farm management to Agri Optics NZ Ltd in 2012, to follow my passion for PA.

On a day to day basis, I study technologies and farming systems, and match our services to help farmers achieve their goals. I analyse data from EM surveys, nutrient maps and many other sources plus moisture probe information to see what its telling us. Using this wealth of information I investigate potential new technologies and solutions, and establish how, or if, they are going to be beneficial to our clients moving forward.

More recently I have added to my qualifications, completing the intermediate sustainable nutrient management course at Massey University.

I have always been really interested in PA. Since joining Agri Optics I have found the greatest satisfaction comes from helping others use PA and when they see how it can benefit their business’s sustainability.  I love working with forward thinking people, looking for new solutions and enjoy the journey it takes us on. On a personal note, my family are a huge inspiration to me!

Chris Smith - Agri Optics NZ Ltd