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Never too old

By Lisa Barbour
Never too old

A RURAL college is promoting the popular adage you’re never too old to learn.

And 74-year-old John Maxwell, of Netherwood Farm near Dumfries, is a prime example of this after recently passing his PA1 and PA2 courses in pesticide application at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) Barony Campus.
Commenting on the pesticide application course, which was delivered by agriculture lecturer Andrew Marshall, John said: “It’s actually the same principle as before but it’s just done differently now with modern technology.
“I now know about the proper labelling, exactly what each chemical does and the pathways for the chemicals on the sprayer.”
He added: “I think the assessment was fair and square and actually I was finished before the young lad.
“Some might think I was too old to go back to college and that I should be retiring, but to me farming is my life, so as long as I am here I will be farming.”
An existing ‘Grandfather’ clause ended last month and there is now a legal requirement for those buying and using plant protection products, which includes pesticides for professional use.
Previously, those born before December 31 1964 could use pesticides responsibly on their or their employer’s land without certification.
But the new legislation requires those buying and using pesticides to hold the relevant qualification, which has led to a large number of people undertaking the course at SRUC Barony.
Rachel Fraser, training manager at the Barony Campus, said: “Our aim is to make sure all our students across all backgrounds and age ranges feel comfortable with what we are teaching.
“Our instructors understand the anxiety that some people feel when they come into a college environment after not having completed any learning for some time.
“What is important at SRUC is that our learners not only gain new skills and qualifications but grow in confidence.”
In the last year over 1200 people have completed short courses at the college, ranging from subjects such as all terrain vehicles and telehandlers through to pesticides, chainsaws and forest machinery.

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