One of the UK’s top arable farmers has praised the winners of this year’s Winter Wheat Challenge. Scott Campbell, a former Scotland’s Rural College student who was last month named Arable Farmer of the Year by Farmers Weekly, was at AgriScot to present a team from SRUC’s Edinburgh campus with the annual award.
Sponsored by the Mains of Loirston Charitable Trust, the Winter Wheat Challenge sees teams make management decisions on their own plots, including variety, seed rate, fertiliser and crop protection. The winners are those who make the best return after paying for variable costs.
Pitting teams of agriculture students from Aberdeen and Edinburgh against each other, it is the second year in a row that the trophy has made its way to the capital.
The triumphant King’s Buildings quintet comprised Allan Ferrie (Newcastleton), Charlie Fullarton (Kelso), Gareth Hall (Galashiels), Conner McCaig (Newton Stewart) and Gregor Service (Stranraer).
While not producing the highest average yield over the competition’s three sites, the team delivered a respectable average yield of 8.7 tonnes/hectare with the variety Elicit, a Group 3 soft wheat. The highest-yielding crop (9.3 tonnes/hectare, from a crop of KWS Lili) was achieved by the second-placed team from Edinburgh, but the winning team grew their crop with lower overall input costs (seed, fertiliser and sprays).
Once crops were harvested, a grain sample from each team was sent to Grain Merchant WN Lindsay for analysis and they provided a spot price based on variety and quality. The winners were offered £140 per tonne for their grain, close to the highest price of £143 per tonne offered to the second-placed team.
Scott, who graduated from SRUC’s Craibstone campus in 2004, said: “I’d like to congratulate everyone who took part in this year’s Winter Wheat Challenge, particularly the winners. It was a difficult year in terms of disease and they made some excellent choices in terms of sprays. The Winter Wheat Challenge is a brilliant competition – it encourages young people, the farmers of the future, to get out into the field and learn some of things that you just can’t learn in the classroom.”
Team leader Allan said: “It was a lot of hard work but we’re absolutely delighted to have won. We’ve definitely learned a lot from the competition and look forward to putting some of these skills into practice in the real world.”