Sunday, November 19, 2017

Writtle wins cropping challenge

June 30, 2017 by  
Filed under News & Business

2017CerealsChallengeWinnersWrittle

A team of students from Writtle University College won the 2017 Cereals Challenge – rising to the challenge of growing the best virtual crop of spring barley.

Taking second place were Harper Adams University – whose team also claimed the prize for best communications, while the team from the Royal Agricultural University took third place.

Hutchinsons chairman David Hutchinson presented the Writtle team with a trophy and £1000 prize money to share between them – plus an additional £500 for the college – at an awards ceremony held during last month’s Cereals 2017 event in Lincolnshire.

The competition began in February, when eight university and college teams were offered the choice of growing a virtual crop of either a high yielding feed barley on heavy soil in a blackgrass situation – or a moderate yielding malting barley on sandy soil with moisture limitations.

Premium

Having decided it was worth aiming for the premium, the team of students from Writtle opted to grow a light malting barley, after sugar beet, on the Suffolk brecks due to its proximity to maltsters, explained team captain Oliver Martin.

“We opted to grow Octavia as it has a robust disease profile, is approved for brewing and distilling, with low grain N, and were confident that we could manage weed control fairly easily in this situation, as we did not have to contend with blackgrass.”

The competition was judged by Velcourt technical director Keith Norman and Hutchinsons technical manager Dick Neale. Final results were based on each team’s agronomic recommendations and input cost management.

Mr Neale said the Writtle team was judged to be the winner because it provided the most accurate and justified recommendations. Ultimately, this was the crop that would have been the most profitable of any if it were really being grown, he said.

Mr Norman underlined the importance of the Cereals Challenge for young people considering careers  in farm management or agronomy. It helped them see the value of good technical information and a agronomic  advice in crop production, he added.

The team from Harper Adams University won the prize of £400. They will have the opportunity to meet with Farmers Guardian publishers Briefing Media, to find out more about what is involved when writing for the agricultural media.

Worthy winners (see above picture): Keith Norman (left) and Dick Neale (right) with Writtle students Henry Hawkins and George Padfield

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