Education 15 Jul 2014

Students are top of the crops in national farming competition

Students from the Easton and Otley College have won a national crop growing agricultural competition.

The farming learners – based at the Norfolk campus – took part in an event called The Cereals Challenge.

The Easton & Otley College team goes away with a trophy and £1000 prize money to share between the team members – plus an additional £500 for the College.

All those who entered the competition were given a plot of land in Chrishall Grange farm in Cambridge where they have been growing a crop of crop of Santiago winter wheat.

Students had to deal with real time decisions with the aim of making the most profits on their yields.

They (the students) were judged on two factors – their ability to make input decisions and control costs.

The students qualified to take part in the finals after participating in a series of regional competitive challenges against other college and University teams. They (Easton and Otley) then beat teams from Harper Adams, Newcastle University, Nottingham University and the Royal Agricultural University to win first prize in the national finals.

Dr Tony Wilson, from the agricultural department at the college, said, “The overriding feeling is one of great pride in the work of this team. They showed real precision in their decision making based on the evidence provided. What they have achieved is a great accomplishment that showed a lot of skill and the college and I congratulate the team wholeheartedly.”

“The team made great use of the evidence available to them particularly the soil sampling data. They calculated that they could add 30kg extra of nitrogen to the soil. This was a good interpretation of the data and by precisely monitoring environmental conditions, crop growth and disease pressure the team was able to produce a husbandry programme that controlled growth to maximise gross margin. Moreover, the marketing was done well and this enabled the Easton&Otley team to pip the others to the post.”

23 year old Owen Smith from Terrington St Clement was the team captain for the Easton and Otley College team. He said, “It’s been a fantastic learning experience and we are absolutely delighted to have won.”

“It was a big surprise and we never expected it. We are happy with what we did and the team worked very well together. We reacted to the conditions, Overall we are very very happy and it hasn’t sunk in yet that we have won THE biggest student arable farming competition in the UK.”