Cereals Challenge 2018

Now in its ninth-year, the Cereals Challenge is continuing the “virtual” approach with Winter Wheat being grown in a testing set of circumstances. Six teams from Universities and Colleges from across England will compete to grow the best virtual crop of wheat on land that has a resistant blackgrass challenge and is following a crop of oilseed rape which has left them with Clearfield volunteers to manage.

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.

At the Launch of this year’s Cereals Challenge on the 14th February in Solihull, Paul Hobson of Hutchinsons, explained the reasoning behind the virtual approach. “In previous years, teams have been given a real plot to manage at the Cereals Event site, however with such a geographical spread of teams, this disadvantaged those teams further away who may not have been able to get to the plots during the growing season.  By creating virtual plots this makes it simpler and fairer for all.” 
CC Group 2018
“A new aspect is the use of video blogs from the field where Keith Norman (Velcourt) and Dick Neale (Hutchinsons) describe the scope of the challenge, making for real impact and using social media channels to share the information.   As the spring unfolds the next 3 steps of the challenge will be conveyed via the Hutchinsons Facebook page - each video blog will highlight what’s happening in the crop and Dick & Keith will describe the task for the teams to solve.”

“Their winter wheat will still need to be grown and managed as if it were a ‘real’ crop and each team will still have complete responsibility for their crop - from choosing which variety to grow and drilling details through to making the real-time agronomy decisions on inputs,” emphasises Mr Hobson.  “The final element of the Challenge is to write a Press Piece which this year will focus on Farm Diversification.  It will be judged by Niamh Tye and a member of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists, and has a prize for the best story which is addition to the Cereals Challenge prize.  This element was introduced for the time in 2017 and proved to be a big hit with the teams and added a new dimension to the competition.”.