Predicting the wet April and controlling disease pressure early could pay off for the team of six from Writtle College, who have chosen a strong fungicide approach in their Cereals Challenge crop plot this year.

“Despite levels being low at the time of our T1, we anticipated a wetter April with increased disease pressure,” says John Boothroyd, Writtle team captain. “So we applied Tracker (boscalid + epoxiconazole) and Amistar Opti (azoxystrobin + chlorothalonil) to focus on eyespot and rust.

“With a range of actives, this is a good anti-resistance strategy,” says Mr Boothroyd. “For T2 we will be looking at including an SDHI fungicide.”

Askham Bryan, the York agricultural college, have chosen to focus more on cost, including the application of nitrogen.

Team leader Matthew Hart says: “While the total amount of N applied was 200kg, 140kg of urea was chosen for slow release and cost effectiveness at £8.26/kg, the remaining 60kg was ammonia nitrate, which was applied at GS32. Also, when choosing our growth regulators we felt chlormequat was the most economical and effective option.

The Cereals Challenge, now in its third year, is a joint initiative between Hutchinsons and Velcourt, designed to challenge students to grow and then market a cereals plot on the site of the Cereals event, this year held in Boothby Graffoe, Lincolnshire.

Bill Meredith, head of agriculture at Riseholme College, which also has a team involved, believes Cereals Challenge is an excellent opportunity for students to involve themselves in managing a crop in real time.

“Managing it with the aim of making a profit makes the challenge all the more realistic,” he adds.

Last year, Newcastle University won the challenge and scooped the £1,000 prize and trophy. This year’s winners will be announced at the cereals event, at 11am on the 13 June on the Velcourt stand.

More on this topic

For more news and information on the event see our Cereals 2012 page