A couple of months into her journey, we look at how Amy Hart is tackling the job and the workload she has taken on…

Amy Hart has joined Bright Maize to cover sales in East Anglia and Wales. She joins the company having had experience in the seed and equine sectors; and her brief includes developing grass and maize seed business as well as building relationships with Anaerobic Digestor (AD) Plant operators. Further responsibilities will be advising and selling on the latest oil seed rape varieties within the Bright Maize portfolio.

Amy takes up her current position having previously worked for Boston Seeds and she sees the move as an opportunity for greater personal contact with customers.

“In this age of mass digital communication, in terms of building a business relationship, there is no substitute for actually meeting customers one-to-one. And we operate in a marketplace where individual relationships count for a lot,” says Amy.

“A big attraction about Bright Maize is that there is always something new going on, whether trialling new maize varieties, formulating new grass mixtures or exploring new markets. And the company is extremely enthusiastic about its work – and this permeates through to both staff and customers. There is a positive atmosphere.

“The company also has an enlightened management approach. Staff are made to feel valued and included; and advice and training are always available when required,” she adds.

Born and bred in Lincolnshire, Amy’s initial career ambitions were in the equine industry: specifically, to become an equine physiotherapist. After a couple of years going down that route, she decided horses were to be a hobby and not a vocation. She now pursues that hobby with gusto – a large part of which involves showing and breeding Welsh Cobs.

“The breed caught my eye with its bold eye and dragon like presence,” she comments.

But Amy does not ride the horses, for one simple reason: in 2019, an accident with a young horse tore three main ligaments in her ankle, leaving her unable to ride, drive or even walk comfortably for nearly a year. She did not return to the saddle, but after reconstructive surgery and a lengthy period of physiotherapy, all other equine activities are firmly back on the agenda.

For a livelihood, Amy turned to agriculture, having grown up around farming and having grandparents from farming stock. Her first job was with local seed producers, Dunns Ltd, where she stayed for seven years – a period she describes as giving her a good grounding and an aptitude to working with others.

On her home turf of East Anglia, Amy sees considerable opportunities for Bright Maize.

“The company has always had a presence in the region, but there is so much opportunity to expand. Obviously a lot of the farming is arable, but it would be a mistake to think it is all that way. There are a good number of progressive dairy farms as well as beef and sheep enterprises; grass for both grazing and silage is an important market,” she says.

“Maize is a vital crop, both for forage and for AD. East Anglia has a high population of AD plants – a sector that is becoming more tech-driven each year. For crops destined for anaerobic digestion, maize is the most popular, and whilst bulk is a significant consideration, it’s only part of the story.

“The tendency towards late maturing maize varieties – historically necessary to achieve the desired yields – is changing. Maize destined for AD is now subject to the same considerations as any other maize; most notably the use of earlier, higher yielding varieties has become a priority issue. Fortunately, in recent years relatively early maturing varieties are available which will yield upwards of 20 tonnes fresh weight per acre. Also, feeding the digester with forage that has been properly conserved with good starch levels is a key consideration,” she adds.

In this vein, Amy will be working with a leading UK bio-tech company who has teamed up with Bright Maize to produce specialist biogas inoculants. Bright Maize has been at the forefront of this technology, and has within its inoculant range, distinct products for AD.

Put simply, the objective is to increase acetic acid levels within the fermented forage to increase methane production within the digester (acetic acid being the precursor for methane production). By combining different strains of heterofermentative bacteria, it is possible to increase acetic acid production.

Strains of L. buchneri (heterofermentors) are normally added to silage to increase aerobic stability.  Generally, this is achieved by increasing acetic acid production but at a cost of increased dry matter loss. The L. buchneri used by Bright Maize – DSM 22501 – shows an entirely different pattern according to the European Food Standard Agency (EFSA). The result is that dry matter losses are significantly reduced.

Amy is also part of the line-up promoting oil seed rape. This will be done alongside MAS Seeds – a partner of Bright Maize and a frontrunner in European seed production.

That Amy is brimming with enthusiasm is just as well, given that her workload is well mapped out. One might expect spare moments to be taken up with non-arduous activity, perhaps finding a lounger on which to relax. Clearly, that’s not on the cards; it’s back to those Welsh Cobs! The next engagement is at the Royal Welsh Show, and in between showing and all that entails, no doubt she’ll find time to meet a few customers!

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