Posted 22 February 2012
Students from Harper Adams are among those from six agricultural colleges and universities who 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 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 institution 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: Harper Adams University College; Askham Bryan College; Bishop Burton College; Lincoln University; Newcastle University and Writtle College.
The Harper Adams team is being led by Matthew Lawman, from Top Farm, a mixed farm in Huntingdon. Like the rest of his team, Matthew studying towards a BSc in Agriculture. He says: "I did a placement with AtlasFram Group and I fancy a career in agronomy. I hope being involved in the challenge means I can get ahead."
Team mate Anthony Branch, who comes from Suffolk, said: "It gives us the chance to go out and do something ourselves. It's nice to have a bit of competition - it never hurts." And Chris Freeman, from Gloucestershire, added : "I want to get into farm management and the challenge will help with managerial decisions in a really practical way."
The final Harper Adams team member is Freddie Grant, from Lincoln, who is studying Agriculture with Mechanisation.
Ken Shipley, Farms Director for the north and north east at Velcourt, said: "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, said: "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."