A team of students from the Royal Agricultural University won the 2018 Cereals Challenge by growing the best crop of virtual winter wheat. Newcastle University took second place closely followed by Harper Adams University.
The winning team of Tania Coxon, James Waddington, Charlotte Pritchard and Oliver Carrick was presented with the prestigious Cereals Challenge trophy and £1000 prize money to share, plus an additional £500 for the college at last month’s Cereals event.
Other participating teams were from Nottingham University, Writtle University College and Hartpury College. The goal was to grow the best winter wheat on land with a resistant blackgrass challenge and following a crop of oilseed rape that left Clearfield volunteers to manage.
The RAU team chose to grow Evolution on the basis of the variety’s good tillering capacity and black grass competitiveness. The crop was drilled in early November to allow for an application of glyphosate for weed control prior to drilling. As the season progressed the team amended their fungicide and nutritional plans to reflect the difficult spring conditions, which they believe made the difference.
Judges Dick Neale of Hutchinsons and Keith Norman of Velcourt agreed putting down the winning formula to the team’s consistently good and robust approach to managing the crop throughout what has been a very challenging season.
They underlined the importance of the experience in taking part in the Cereals Challenge for young people considering careers in farm management or agronomy, in order to understand the value of good technical information and agronomic advice in profitable crop production.
Charlotte Pritchard, part of the RAU team who is studying for a FDSc in Agriculture and Farm Management and is in her second year, believes that taking part in the Cereals Challenge has given her first hand experience of what it would be like to work as an agronomist.
She said “It has also has been an excellent opportunity to be working and learning alongside leading industry experts. It was certainly well worth the commitment and hard work throughout the season, and I would encourage anyone considering a career in agronomy or crop production to take part.”