Now in its eighth year, the cereals challenge is an annual competition organised by crop production specialists Hutchinsons and farm business management company Velcourt to encourage a new generation of agronomists and farmers into the industry. For the first time in the competition’s history, teams won’t have a real plot to manage but will compete to grow the best virtual plot of spring barley.

WUC team captain Oliver Martin, a third year agricultural business management (crop production) student explained the team’s choice to grow a malting barley on light sands: “By growing a malting crop in Suffolk, we are close to malsters. We have opted for Octavia which is approved for brewing and malt distilling. At least we know that we can manage the weed control, as we don’t have black grass to worry about on the region’s lighter soils.”

Each team will be asked to present fertiliser and herbicide management plans, a plant growth regulator and pest management plan as well as a disease management plan and – most importantly – will be asked to evaluate their appropriateness and timeliness for each recommendation, input cost management, estimated crop yield and quality.

Supporting Oliver and the team which is made up of Henry Hawkins, Harry Coppin and George Padfield, is WUC senior agriculture lecturer Henry Matthews. The winning team will be announced at the Cereals Event on 14 June as part of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists cereals awards ceremony.