A team of three second-year foundation degree students from Bishop Burton College have won first prize in this year’s Cereals Challenge competition.
Six teams from Newcastle University, The Royal Agricultural University, Harper Adams University College, Bishop Burton College, Riseholme and Easton and Otley College battled it out for the prestigious title, presented at Cereals 2016.
The competition had a twist this year, being the first time teams had been challenged with growing a pea crop in what is the International Year of Pulses.
Experts from sponsors Velcourt and Hutchinsons were joined by PGRO’s principal technical officer Steve Belcher for judging of the plots, scrutinising agronomic inputs, timeliness and legality, gross margin and media interaction.
The Bishop Burton team opted for marrowfat pea variety Sakura and Velcourt’s Keith Norman praised them for their judicious use of chemical inputs, responding to problems in the field rather than using a “belt and braces” approach.
“That meant spend was substantially less for a good gross margin. They also used a balanced nutrition programme of Primary P [starter fertiliser], bitter salts and manganese – key on this light soil to prevent marsh spot,” added Mr Norman.
Making up the Bishop Burton team was captain Rhys Jones (pictured above, right), Shane Hardgrave (middle) and Harry Torn (left) and all agreed establishing the crop in the cold, wet March was the biggest challenge on their way to first prize.
They saw a seed treatment and the Primary P as crucial to meeting this challenge.
Also, careful use of inputs through the spring to hit human consumption quality and gaining a premium without cost of production spiralling helped their cause.
This included using just one fungicide when other teams used two and while others used post-emergence herbicide sprays, they used none as no broad-leaved weeds or grassweeds were present in the plots.
Easton and Otley were runners-up and in third place was the team from Shropshire-based Harper Adams University.
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