Blog 2. Winter Hibernation

The cold weather and short days of January initially left me wishing I could curl up somewhere warm and hibernate until signs of spring started to appear. In fact, agronomists seem to go through a form of hibernation at this time of year.
Crop walking slows down over winter with agronomists opting for a cosy office instead of muddy fields, and wellies are replaced with slippers. However, the annual hibernation of an agronomist differs to that of the animal kingdom. Whilst hibernating animals slow to a stop over winter, agronomists continue, still completing a to-do list just as long, although more unseen.
Revision is not just on my to do list. The rest of the Indigro team are working towards gaining their BASIS Diplomas. With their exams in February, everyone seems to be doing their fair share of revision.
Perhaps this year, the contrast of the winter months has been even more pronounced with much of our hibernation being mandatory, in the form of a national lockdown. Like many people I am clinging to the last ounce of enthusiasm for online meetings and have attended so many this month, even a client commented that he was bored of my background view!
Whilst the rest of the team planned for the spring season, I had over a month of anxiety- inducing waiting for the important delivery my FACTS result, eventually receiving the news that I had passed. Consequently, I now hold the title of being an FQA (FACTS Qualified Advisor for those not abreast the latest abbreviations). In contrast to the last eight years of exams, passing FACTS has earnt me a place on the professional register, meaning it is the first qualification I can actually do something practical with – finally!

Winter Hibernation

Crimper used as part of the cover crop desiccation trial for my BASIS project.

However, the constant treadmill of life as a trainee means I have not spent the last month revelling in my success, but instead set myself the task of completing my BASIS project before crop walking picks up again. I would be lying if I said my enthusiasm for the write-up was abounding, with this being my third dissertation in just as many years. My project “Impacts of the potential loss of glyphosate on conservation agriculture” combined my interests in agronomy, regenerative practices and climate change mitigation, so it was not at all surprising I have found myself enjoying the process.

Winter Hibernation

Winter linseed in the snow.

As I write this, we are on day 324 of Covid-19 restrictions. It is therefore no wonder that I suspect like many a hibernating animal (I haven’t asked any personally) winter is starting to wear thin. It is with a renewed sense of optimism that I am entering February and with enthusiasm I look towards the next four months, dedicated to learning the knowledge needed for my BASIS exam.
Whilst many may prefer to sit cosy by the fire, I relish the opportunity to get outside and ease into the season to come. A day stretching my legs in the snow this week and the opportunity to speak to someone, besides my long-suffering housemate, felt like such a treat. Like many a hibernating creature, the longer days are causing an excited stir. A feeling of anticipation is building that they will hopefully bring with them a close to the hibernation, mandatory or otherwise.

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