Students vie for Cereals crown

The Easton and Otley team at the Cereals Challenge: Ryan Thompson, Andrew Webber, James Cunningham a

The Easton and Otley team at the Cereals Challenge: Ryan Thompson, Andrew Webber, James Cunningham and Beth Thompson in Lincolnshire at the launch of the competition. - Credit: Archant

Reigning champions of a national farming competition have reached the finals of this event for the third year running.

The Easton and Otley team at the Cereals Challenge: James Cunningham, Ryan Thompson, Andrew Webber a

The Easton and Otley team at the Cereals Challenge: James Cunningham, Ryan Thompson, Andrew Webber and Beth Thompson in Lincolnshire at the launch of the competition. - Credit: Archant

Last year, learners from Easton and Otley College scooped the Cereals Challenge 2014, and this year they are again in the running for top honours at the awards.

Contestants are given a plot of land in Boothby Graffoe in Lincolnshire where they have to grow a crop of rye for the crisp bread market.

Students then have to deal with real time decisions with the aim of making the most profits on their yield on June 10.

Competitors are judged on their ability to make input decisions and control costs.

This year, students from the college have already negotiated the initial heats and they will be looking to reclaim their crown at a site near Lincoln later in the year.

Dr Tony Wilson, an agricultural lecturer at the college, explained that in February students travelled to Lincolnshire for the launch of the event, where the rules were explained and paperwork handed out. Plots have now been assigned and inspected.

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“Students have been involved in nutrient management planning as they consider the best way to progress the growing of their winter rye crop. They are also thinking through their husbandry programmes looking at plant growth, regulators, fungicide and pesticide treatments. We have also arranged for them to visit a local rye grower to get some advice,” he said.

“The skills that our students learn during this process can be applied to their working lives once they have left the college – that can only be a good thing.”

Student team member James Cunningham, from Bury St Edmunds, said it was useful experience.

“We’ve had a brief and we’ve travelled to Lincoln. We’ve been working together as a team. It’s quite technical but it helps you with your research skills. We won it last year so the pressure is on - we will do our best and see where we come. To win would be amazing - last year’s winners got offered loads of jobs so it would obviously be very beneficial to our future careers if we finished first.”

The challenge is organised by Hutchinsons and Velcourt and takes place on the Cereals Event site in Lincoln with plots being judged on the open days of the event. The winning team receive a trophy and prize of £1000 shared between team members plus £500 for their college/university department. There are also trophies for the teams placed second and third.