When I decided to study for an MSc in Waste Management, I certainly didn’t imagine my first job in the industry to involve working on a farm and driving 4x4s around the Kent countryside! Yet five months since I started I’m thoroughly enjoying the variety of tasks my job entails and look forward to developing a career in organics recycling.
What does FGS Agri do?
FGS Agri Ltd is a Kent based agricultural contracting business, offering an array of services throughout the South East. The company has been built on the ethos of providing a one stop shop for all outsourced agricultural services required by the livestock and arable farmers. In recent years FGS Agri has diversified into new sectors, offering a range of civil and utility contracting services and organics recycling in partnership with our sister company the Countrystyle Group.
My team analyse the beneficial value of organic material based by products and develop routes for reuse wherever possible within the agricultural and horticultural industries. This includes delivery and spreading of compost, organic manures, sewage sludge, digestates and industrial by products such as paper mill sludge.
How did you get your job at FGS Agri?
I began searching for jobs in waste management a couple of months before submitting my MSc thesis. I spent an hour or so every day job hunting online, limiting my search to Kent as my partner works in Canterbury. When I found the FGS Agri vacancy on the LetsRecycle website I immediately noticed that the location was perfect. I had never heard of the company, but after some research into what they do I decided to apply.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, I continued to search and apply for jobs and after a few weeks I had a phone call inviting me for an interview. I was a little nervous as this was my first interview for a job in waste management. The farm setting was lovely and the interview went very well, but I didn’t know how many others I was competing with and what experience they had.
Several weeks passed without any news so I began to assume I hadn’t been successful, but then I received another phone call inviting me for a second interview! I was shown round Kemsley paper mill where we are contracted to manage the waste and recycling and several composting sites producing the compost we take to agricultural land. This gave me an insight into the variety of work the company gets involved in and I found it very interesting. To my surprise I was the preferred candidate for the role and was offered the job the following week!
What is a typical day like for you?
My job involves a wide variety of tasks and every day is different. Sometimes I work at the paper mill, assisting with the coordination of our waste operations and compiling weekly and monthly reports. I am currently researching new ideas and innovations for the waste contract, such as potential recycling opportunities for materials which are being sent to landfill and alternative outlets for the paper sludge.
Most days I am based on the farm, preparing and submitting deployment applications to the Environment Agency for landspreading of compost and paper sludge. This involves carrying out thorough environmental risk assessments for each area of land and writing agricultural benefit statements for each field and cropping rotation.
Being an outdoor person, a particularly enjoyable part of my job is getting out into the countryside, visiting farms and taking soil samples for laboratory analysis. This determines the current nutrient levels in the soil and allows us to justify the application of our materials. After periods of rain I am also responsible for monitoring our current field storage heaps of compost and paper sludge for any leaching and contamination of ditches and surface waters.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I am enjoying the diversity of my role within FGS Agri and find the links between waste management and agriculture very exciting. I am passionate about reducing organic waste to landfill, and the recovery of wastes into valuable products for the benefit of growing crops.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?
In the current economic climate, I recommend keeping all options open and applying for all jobs you meet the criteria for. Specific training and qualifications in the sector will always support your applications, and WAMITAB and CIWM provide a range of qualifications and training covering various specialisms within the Industry.
Finally, don’t be afraid to apply for jobs you wouldn’t normally go for or jobs with companies you have never heard of. Like me, you may discover an exciting career path you hadn’t really considered before!