Devon and Cornwall can proudly boast the best student wheat growers in the country.
Four agriculture students from Duchy College, Stoke Climsland, fought off stiff competition to win the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) Agronomy Cup by growing the biggest yield of wheat.
Students Rosie Dodd, from Tavistock, Reuben Ridout, from Liskeard, Holly Yelland and Lauren Hill, both from Okehampton, are all studying for a foundation degree in agriculture.
They all started at Duchy College on the Level 3 Agriculture course and progressed to the Foundation Degree. They beat 18 other university and college teams, and a team of NIAB TAG farmer members, to lift the Cup and win a day out with a NIAB TAG agronomist and free entry to a NIAB TAG members’ technical conference.
NIAB TAG’s national trials co-ordinator Ian Midgley said: “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 a milling wheat variety 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.”
Team Captain Rosie Dodd said it was “a very valuable learning experience for us all, especially as we all come from livestock backgrounds”.
“We were amazed to have won especially against some of the other universities who entered,” she added.
Ian explained that the team implemented a straightforward input programme, paying particular attention to detail regarding costs, prevailing disease pressure and fungicide efficacy. The result was an incredible £257.83/ha, representing a 20%, increase in margin over the NIAB standard.
Course manager, Jo Vincent, said: “The students have done an outstanding job, we are extremely proud of their achievements.”
Head of Campus at Stoke Climsland, Rob Dunn Said: “My congratulations to Rosie, Holly, Lauren and Reuben on this magnificent achievement. The NIAB Agronomy Cup is a prestigious national award and to beat 18 other Universities and Colleges is no mean feat. Students benefit a great deal from participating in such competitions and so we are very grateful to the NIAB TAG team, in particular national trials co-ordinator Ian Midgley and NIAB TAG trials manager Mark Wavish for their work in setting up and running the competition.”
For more information on the range of agricultural courses available across The Cornwall College Group visit www.duchy.ac.uk or call 0845 60 50 455.