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Cereals Challenge Goes Virtual

Date: 31st March 2017

For the first time in its eight-year history, this year’s Cereals Challenge has gone virtual.

The competition is organised by crop production specialists Hutchinsons and farm-management company Velcourt, and aims to encourage a new generation of agronomists and farmers into the industry.

Students studying a Foundation Degree in Agricultural Management at Askham Bryan are competing against seven other universities and colleges. The team of four, Nick Sanderson (Captain), Rob Renner, Dan Smith and Steve Cummins, have for the first time, been given the challenge of managing a virtual crop of spring barley. Paul Hobson of Hutchinsons explained, “Adopting the virtual approach has meant that we were able to offer a choice between two on-farm scenarios’: either as a high yielding feed crop on heavy soil in a black-grass situation, or as a moderate yielding malting crop on sandy soil with moisture limitations.”

The Askham Bryan team will be expected to make agronomic recommendations including fertiliser, weed, disease and pest management plans complete with evaluations on appropriateness, timeliness and costs of treatments as well as estimated yields. Team Captain, Nick Sanderson, commented, ”we have gone for malting barley in a light soil scenario and it has been a challenging experience, selecting the right approaches to establishment, weed management and nutrition given the context of land and market”.

The results will be judged by Keith Norman, Velcourt, and Dick Neale of Hutchinsons. Mr Neale added, “This competition gives a flavour of making real-time decisions ranging from in-season agronomy to market dynamics – all with the final gross margin in mind which is something that is difficult to teach in a classroom.”

The winning team will be announced at the Cereals event at 5pm on 14 June.

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Askham Bryan College,
Askham Bryan,
YO23 3FR
01904 772277