Colleges battle it out in the Cereals Challenge 2012

Agri Students Prepare for a Challenge

Students from six agricultural colleges are battling it out to grow the best crop of winter wheat and win £1,000 in the Cereals Challenge 2012.

The challenge was launched on February 15 and aims to encourage a new generation of farmers and agronomists by giving them a plot of wheat to manage and sell. The competition, now in its third year, is organised by the UK’s leading farm business management company Velcourt and crop production specialists Hutchinsons.

Not only does the winning team receive a trophy and a prize of £1,000 to share, the winning college is also awarded £500.

The six plots are on the site of the Cereals event in Boothby Graffoe in Lincolnshire and the winner will be announced at the event on June 13.
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 year’s six teams were chosen in a random draw from 12 that applied and are: Askham Bryan College; Bishop Burton College; Harper Adams University; Lincoln University; Newcastle University and Writtle College.

Last year Newcastle University scooped the prize and this year’s team leader Henry Ward is hoping to win again.
He says: “It’s a practical application of the theory we’ve learnt in lectures and I think I have an advantage as I took part last year. The competition was really close in 2011 so I’m not taking it for granted – we’ve got the worst plot this year too!”

Ken Shipley, Farms Director for the north and north east at Velcourt, says: “We run a scheme to train graduates to be Farm Managers and are actively looking for bright, enthusiastic students to join the company. The Cereals Challenge is an excellent opportunity for us to meet youngsters looking for a career in farming.”  

Mike Young, Manager of the Hutchinson Foundation, the industry-leading agronomist development programme, says: “We feel it is very important for us to work closely with colleges and universities. We want to support the new entrants that are joining the industry and offer them the best opportunity to develop a career in agronomy through our unique Hutchinsons Foundation Training Programme. This is an exciting opportunity for the students to get a feel for the role of an agronomist. Like all things the more you put in the more you get out of it.”