This year’s NIAB Agronomy Cup, and the title of “best student wheat growers in the country” has been won by “Agric B”, a team of four agriculture students from Newcastle University. The four competed against 16 other team teams from all over the UK. Their prize was a day out with a NIAB TAG agronomist, free entry to a NIAB TAG members’ technical conference and a £50 book voucher each.
The Newcastle team, Joe Campbell, Andrew Hunter, George Senior and Peter Armstrong Foxton, are all final year students in BSc Agriculture with Honours in Farm Business Management. They achieved the highest gross margin in the competition, at £1,540.83/hectare, based on a yield of 15.61 tonnes/ha and input costs of £82.30/ha. All four Agric B team members come from farming backgrounds: Mr Hunter’s family are arable farmers in East Lothian, Mr Senior’s are sheep farmers near Huddersfield, Mr Armstrong Foxton has a Cumbrian upland farming background and Mr Campbell’s family farms beef and sheep near Durham.
Ian Midgley, national trials co-ordinator at NIAB, says: “The competition challenges a team’s agronomy, farm management and agricultural decision-making skills. It differs to other plot competitions as teams make input decisions for the winter wheat variety Cordiale on a NIAB field trials site local to their college or university, which emphasises the importance of basing recommendations on field observations and local conditions. NIAB TAG trials officers apply the recommendation to fully-replicated field plots; we make it clear that their recommendations must be in on time and ask that they fully explain their decision making.”
Runners up in the competition were Duchy College’s “Unbelievable Jeff” and Harper Adams University’s “Eat, Sleep, Wheat, Repeat”. The competition has been running since 2012. Open to agriculture and crop science students across the UK, it is based on sites at NIAB’s regional centres at Morley, Harper Adams, Cambridge, Cirencester, Sutton Scotney, Newton Abbot and Berwick, where the Newcastle team was based.