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11th March

Darren Cook mainFrontier agronomist Darren Cook has achieved the prestigious BASIS Diploma in Agronomy in a record time of just over two years.

Darren, who lives near Newcastle, provides advice for arable farmers across County Durham, Northumberland and Cumbria.

BASIS is the independent standards setting and auditing organisation for the crop protection, fertiliser and allied industries. BASIS provides recognised professional qualifications that allow agronomists and advisors to provide up to date and wide ranging advice to their customers, and meet the legislative requirements for selling agrochemicals. It also maintains a Professional Register which demonstrates continuing professional development (CPD) for people working in the agricultural sector.

The Diploma is one of the highest qualifications offered by BASIS. To achieve it an advisor must first successfully pass the BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection and FACTS Certificate. These two qualifications are the essential building blocks for candidates pursuing the Diploma. Candidates must then undertake 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 an Advanced Crop Module or the Advanced Nutrient Management Planning Module. Darren chose Advanced Nutrient Management Planning Module as his final module.

Darren said: "Of course it's great to hear that I've passed my BASIS Diploma, it was a personal ambition of mine and I have really found it interesting. But the main reason I wanted to continue beyond the standard BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection qualification 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. Luckily they really value training and development and they actively encouraged me to study for this and gave me the support, time and resources that I needed to complete the course."

Stephen Jacob, acting CEO for BASIS said: "Darren achieved his first BASIS qualification towards the Diploma on 13th September 2013 and his final module was completed on 18th December 2015. 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."

Frontier is passionate about ensuring its people have the highest level of expertise and give the most sound crop production advice in the industry. This is reflected in the industry-leading number of BASIS Diploma holders at the Company. Of 140 agronomists working at Frontier, 34 (24.3%) hold the BASIS Diploma in Agronomy and a number more are also studying towards this. This is the highest proportion of BASIS Diploma qualified agronomists in one organisation in the agricultural industry. Of the 5,839 BASIS Professional Register members, a total of 208 (3.6%) hold the BASIS Diploma.

Darren's passion for learning shows no sign of subsiding soon either: "I've enjoyed studying for the Diploma so I might consider completing the Harper Adams Graduate Diploma next."

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