How long have you worked in agriculture?
I started out as a physical education teacher but switched to agriculture in 1979. After attending Ivano-Frankivsk agricultural college and then the Ukrainian Agricultural Academy in Kiev, I worked as an agronomist for 33 years in the Khmelnitsky region. For the past seven years I have been one of two deputy directors responsible for arable growing on 25,000ha with Agro-Express-Service.
How has farming changed over the years?
Agriculture started to change when private land ownership began. The next push was growth in technology and machinery but sadly agricultural development in Ukraine still lags behind other more modern agricultural countries. The other big change has been in fertilizer production. Although Ukraine traditionally produced its own fertilizers a lot of plants have closed down in recent years and we now need to buy it in from Russia at a big extra cost to our farmers.
What is your opinion on the opening of the agricultural land market?
In general, it’s positive. But I am not sure that farmers quite understand the process of buying and selling land. There is no reliable price and cost estimate for land so it is impossible to compare parcels of different quality.
Which agricultural season is your favourite?
It is definitely when the young growth starts to appear in the field. I love to look at this process day by day. I always tell my colleagues, the main thing we need is germination, once that begins we are in business. In contrast, the winter is spent in meetings, studying new products and choosing the best options for our year ahead.
Do you have any interesting farming stories?
I have a lot. As an agronomist, I once recommended a herbicide for OSR which had been successfully used in Germany but hadn`t yet been registered for use on the crop in Ukraine. When I realised I asked my client not to enter the field for two weeks. I can report that the crop did very well.
What advice would you give to young farmers?
Work hard, read a lot of professional books and keep up with modern technological processes. The most important thing is continuous self-education – anyone who wants to study and develop will be successful. Planning is key so my advice in arable production is, don’t search for what caused the problem but prevent its appearance in the first place.