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Lecturers battle for crops crown

Posted 26 July 2013

Some of the lecturers and staff competing in the challenge

Crops lecturers and technical staff at Harper Adams University are battling against each other by putting their expertise into practice to grow the most profitable crop of wheat.

The challenge is to produce a crop that achieves the best gross margin and satisfies commercial standards. The winner will be the person who achieves the best output, minus growing costs.

Dr Ivan Grove, Senior Lecturer in Nematode Management and Agronomy Research, devised the idea. He said: “I wanted to encourage staff to put their expertise into practice on a competitive basis.

“We are all involved with ‘crop production’ modules at Harper Adams and this competition challenges us to justify each decision we make, and not just say what we would do as in lectures.

“We are trying to stimulate that extra knowledge which keeps us closer to the practicalities of modern crop production.”

Those taking part include academic staff and members of the Crop and Environment Research Centre (CERC) trials team.

It is hoped that the challenge will become an annual event with a different crop each year so that participants have to change their strategies and make new considerations.

Dr Grove added: “This competition means that we all have to be really involved with the decisions as we have a vested interest in the outcome and want to produce the best crop.

“It is fairly easy to keep up-to-date with changing practices and inputs in our industry, but it is often the subtleties within decisions, for example a change of fungicide rate, that really affects the bottom line.

“Professional agronomists must be constantly aware of value or return from a particular input and it is careers in areas such as agronomy that we are preparing our students for.”

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