Posted 1 March 2017
There are no physical plots, because for many teams the geographical spread has made it a challenge to visit the plot multiple times throughout the growing season. We have therefore been given two different scenarios to choose from."
This year’s Harper Adams University Cereals Challenge team is made up entirely of final year Agriculture with Crop Management students. James Whatty, Helen Brown, Joe Bagshaw and Rebecca Creasey are being overseen by lecturer Louisa Dines
There are nine universities and colleges taking part and unlike previous years the entire challenge, to grow a crop of spring barley, is a virtual one.
James Whatty explained: “There are no physical plots, because for many teams the geographical spread has made it a challenge to visit the plot multiple times throughout the growing season.
“We have therefore been given two different scenarios to choose from which were: A high yielding field crop on heavy ground with black-grass issues or moderate yielding malting crop on sandy soils with moisture limitations.
“The Harper team chose the high yielding crop on heavy ground with black-grass issues as of recent the use of spring cropping to tackle high levels of black-grass infestations has been subject to much interest.”
The challenge will cover every aspect of crop-growing from start to finish so the team will make recommendations on cultivations, herbicide applications, fertiliser and PGRs and finally pest and disease management plans will all need to be decided.
Key to the challenge is the appropriateness of the recommendations combined with estimated crop yield and quality in relation to the input gross margin.
The Cereals Challenge is organised by crop production specialists Hutchinsons and farm business management company Velcourt, and aims to encourage a new generation of agronomists and farmers into the industry by offering them a real-time crop to manage.
Dick Neale, technical manager of Hutchinsons said: "This competition gives final year agricultural students 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, “says Mr Neale.
Follow the Harper Adams team on Twitter @HAUCereals2017