2013 students put to a new challenge

Ag students challenge to grow the best winter barley crop

Agricultural students from six UK colleges and universities are rising to the challenge of growing the best plot of winter barley on the Cereals event site in the 2013 Cereals Challenge.


Now in its fourth year, the Cereals Challenge is organised by crop production specialists Hutchinsons and farm business management company Velcourt, and aims to encourage a new generation of agronomists and farmers into the industry by offering them a real-time crop to manage and sell.

Successful teams from Harper Adams, Newcastle University, The Royal Agricultural College, Hartpury College, Easton College and Riseholme College qualified against a total of thirteen entries to win a place in this year’s Challenge.




Each team was nominated a plot of winter barley on the site of the Cereals event in Boothby Graffoe in Lincolnshire, and the winner will be announced at the event on 12th June. Not only does the winning team receive a trophy and a prize of £1,000 to share, the winning college is also awarded £500.


Judges Keith Norman, Technical Director at Velcourt, Dick Neale, Technical Manager of Hutchinsons, and Alastair Priestley, of Patrick Dean Ltd, Cereals’ host farmer, will look at each team’s technical merit, gross margin and quality and timeliness of recommendations.


"This competition gives final year agricultural students a flavour of making real time decisions ranging  from in-season agronomy to market dynamics - all with the final gross margin in mind. This is something that is difficult to teach in a classroom, “says Mr Neale.


“We have chosen winter barley over wheat this year to provide a different task, and also to reflect the increasing hectares of winter barley being grown as new varieties offer feed yields similar to those of second wheats. "


Nick Shorter of Velcourt who launched the Cereals Challenge to the students underlined the success of the Challenge in offering an insight into careers in agronomy or farm management, and also as an opportunity to meet youngsters looking for a career with either company.


Since the Challenge was launched Velcourt has employed one of the students who joined the company as a Trainee manager this autumn and selected another as its  scholar studying at Harper.


For more information on Velcourt’s independent technology or a career in farm management please contact Nick Shorter