A team of final year students from Writtle University College in Essex has won this year’s Cereals Challenge agronomy competition.

The four man band of Henry Hawkins, George Padfield, Oliver Martin (captain) and Harry Coppin saw off competition from seven other university and college teams, with Harper Adams University coming second, and Royal Agricultural University third.

Competitors have been busy since spring making the agronomic decisions for either a high yielding feed crop of barley on heavy soil in a blackgrass situation, or a moderate yielding malting crop on sandy soil with moisture limitations.

See also: 2017 FW Awards – Young Farmer of the Year finalists

Henry Hawkins and George Padfield from the winning Writtle College team collect their award from Velcourt technical director Keith Norman (L) and Hutchinsons technical director Dick Neale (R) © Andrew Pennill

Henry Hawkins and George Padfield from the winning Writtle College team collect their award from Velcourt technical director Keith Norman (L) and Hutchinsons technical director Dick Neale (R) © Andrew Pennill

The eight-year-old competition, organised by cropping experts Hutchinsons and farm management company Velcourt, has had a revamp this year with competitors looking after a virtual trial plot rather than a real one at the Cereals site.

This was to make it fairer for those based further away from the site, and easier to schedule around exam commitments.

The Harper Adams team also collected a prize from the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists for writing the best report on their decision making, by setting out how and why they had changed their fertiliser applications through the season.

Left to Right: Catherine Linch (Pinstone Communications), Joe Bagshaw, Helen Brown, Becca Creasey, and James Whatty from Harper Adams University who picked up the prize for writing the best Cereals Challenge press briefing © Andrew Pennill

Left to Right: Catherine Linch (Pinstone Communications), Joe Bagshaw, Helen Brown, Becca Creasey, and James Whatty from Harper Adams University who picked up the prize for writing the best Cereals Challenge press briefing © Andrew Pennill