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 Neil 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.
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, of Hutchinsons, 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 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.”
Pictured Writtle College team (plot five), Team: John Boothroyd (team leader), William Juhl, Craig Gemmill
All of the team mates are in their final year at Writtle College in Essex. Team leader John Boothroyd’s dad is an independent agronomist in Cambridgeshire and John thinks the challenge will be a really good experience. William Juhl’s father farms at the Littlebury Farming Partnership in Essex and says: “I can challenge my dad if I win the competition and have some banter with him about having a trophy he hasn’t got.” Craig Gemmill, who’s doing a BSc Hons in Agriculture says: “I’m looking forward to having practical experience and put into place what I have learnt in college.”