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Easton and Otley College plays key role in European crop research project

PUBLISHED: 06:00 25 November 2017

Matthew Hawthorne from the Euston Estate with Charlie Askew from Easton and Otley College on the Euston estate with partners taking part in the European crop project. Picture: JOHN NICE

Matthew Hawthorne from the Euston Estate with Charlie Askew from Easton and Otley College on the Euston estate with partners taking part in the European crop project. Picture: JOHN NICE

John Nice

An East Anglian land college is playing a leading role in a European project based around crop research.

Easton and Otley College is taking part in a scheme, funded by Erasmus, in which students from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden and the UK grow wheat on a hectare of land in their respective countries.

Eight to 10 students then project manage the land as a mini business, taking on roles relating to marketing, research and spraying.

The two-year project also gives students the opportunity to visit their European partners to share experiences, with a report issued in July 2018 to summarise what has been learnt.

The UK recently hosted a five-day study trip to discuss the agricultural crop project and gave the 50-strong group a farming and cultural tour of Suffolk and Norfolk.

During the visit, partners were shown Euston Farms on the Norfolk-Suffolk border near Thetford, talked to grain business Openfield and went to Blakeney Point, the Museum of the Broads and St Georges Distillery.

Lead partner at the college, agricultural lecturer Charlie Askew, said the feedback from European colleagues was “excellent”.

“They saw a wide range of activities and I would like to thank the local businesses and the farming community in general for helping to make this such a great success.

“The tour of Euston farms was particularly well received. Everyone saw a broad range of everything. I knew it would be good as Lady Clare and her team really see the value in projects like this. Our students gain a lot from this as well. They will get the chance to go to Sweden next year and they have already made connections with people from different countries that can help them in the future.”

He added: “Projects like this will happen in the future and I hope that we will be involved. Generally speaking, educational projects are well backed by the EU and money for education within this forum was increased in the last round of budget announcements. It’s not just colleges who benefit from this it’s also high schools and universities. So it would be a tragedy if opportunities like this fall by the wayside in the future.”

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