Easton & Otley team win place in 2014 grand Cereals Challenge

2014 Cereals College Challenge finalists

2014 Cereals College Challenge finalists - Credit: Submitted

For the fifth year running students from six colleges and universities including Easton & Otley have accepted the challenge of growing the best winter wheat plot in the 2014 Cereals Challenge.

The five teams, Harper Adams University, Newcastle University, Royal Agricultural University, Nottingham University and Riseholme College also won places in the latest competition.

Six plots of Santiago winter wheat at the Cereals 2014 site at Duxford, near Cambridge, have been officially handed over to the student teams to manage. The winner gets a trophy and £1,000 to share, the winning college is also awarded £500.

The teams will manage the plots, drilled on October 18 after spring barley, until Cereals 2014 opens on June 11 and 12, when they will be judged.

The judges include Keith Norman, Velcourt's technical director, Dick Neale, technical manager of Hutchinsons, and host farmer Robert Law. They will look at each team's agronomic recommendations, cost management, estimated crop yield and the quality, and crop marketing.

'An important part of this process is for us to understand the justifications for each decision made as from this we can see if the challenges of the season and crop have been truly understood and responded to – as in real time agronomy, ' said Andrew Mortimer, of Velcourt, who manages plots on a day-day basis.

Last year's tightly contested challenge saw winners Newcastle University just one point ahead of Harper Adams. 'However, this year we have a very different scenario altogether; we have a wheat crop that is not as lush as many of the earlier drilled crops around so this will need consideration, also the crop is hungry, so the first task of the challenge will be to think about early nitrogen recommendations,' he added.

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Since the Challenge was launched Hutchinsons has taken on two of the students into their agronomy foundation training programme.