Easton & Otley College wins 2015 Cereals Challenge for the second time

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For the second year running a team of four students from Easton & Otley College in Suffolk, has won the Cereals Challenge.

Teams from Newcastle University, The Royal Agricultural University, Nottingham University, Bishop Burton College (Riseholme Campus), Writtle College and Easton & Otley College qualified in a competitive process to manage a plot of rye from mid-February until the day before the Cereals event, when they were judged by Keith Norman, technical director at Velcourt, Dick Neale, technical manager of Hutchinsons, and Alastair Priestley,  managing director of Patrick Dean Ltd, this years’ Cereals host farm.

The team of four from Easton & Otley College who are studying for a Foundation degree in Agricultural Management secured their win by a comfortable 4 mark lead over runners up Bishop Burton College (Riseholme Campus), and 13 points over the Newcastle University team who took third place.

cereals challenge 2015 winner otley college

The Easton & Otley College team goes away with a trophy and £1000 prize money to share between the team members plus an additional £500 for the College.
“Growing rye proved to be more difficult for the teams than in previous years when they had more mainstream Cereals to grow; this meant that they had to go out of their comfort zones to find out about growing and marketing the crop, “said Dick Neale of Hutchinsons during the prize giving at the Cereals event.

“There were big differences between the plots particularly with regards to levels of Nitrogen applied, timings of application and product choice. Disease management also proved interesting as some teams treated for diseases such as Rhyncosporium which is not a disease of rye!”

“The Easton & Otley team won by sheer attention to detail across every area of their programme. Rye needs a good PGR programme and they got this right, nutritional recommendations were also appropriate. However what really stood out was the time and effort that the team put into the justifications for their actions – which is an important part of the challenge,” added Keith Norman of Velcourt.

This year’s winners worked closely together and agreed all inputs and management decisions alongside the guidance of lecturer Anthony Wilson, who believes that winning the Cereals Challenge will provide the students with the confidence to look at careers in agronomy or farm management that they may not have previously considered.

Ryan Thompson, winning team captain agrees and is keen to encourage other students to join the challenge in the future. “It’s been a fantastic learning experience and has given us all a flavour of real time agronomy - we are absolutely delighted to have won.”

Since the Challenge was launched six years ago, Hutchinsons has taken on 5 students into their successful Agronomy Foundation Training Programme whilst Velcourt has employed six students.