October 10, 2016, by Emma Lowry

Pick of the crop in national apprentice challenge

Episode two of Farmers Apprentice 2016 saw the 10 finalists, including three agriculture students in the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham, undertake their first farming task.

Split into two teams, Team Tom and Team Camilla, the contestants were set the challenge to put together a cropping plan to grow wheat against the clock.

Armed with data gathered in the field, the two teams had to decide which variety of wheat to sew, what nutrients to give it and how to protect their crop from pests and diseases to maximise profits.

The teams used a powerful farm management software, Gatekeeper, to help make decisions about their crops based on data analysis; it’s a technology today’s arable farmers rely on.

Once complete, both teams took turns to take the judging panel, which included representatives from crop science firm Bayer AG, through their cropping plans in a short presentation.

Team Camilla chose a winter wheat called Fiscan, which is high-yield and has a good resistance to most pests and disease. To tackle a prevalent weed, black grass, they planned to sow late and use a high wheat seed rate to smother it. They predicted their strategy could produce nine tonnes of wheat per hectare, giving them a gross margin of £903 per hectare.

Team Tom also chose a disease-resistant variety of feed wheat, called Graham. They predicted they could save money on disease-prevention and would take similar steps to Team Camilla to eradicate black grass, with additional spot spraying of an herbicide to use less chemicals. Team Tom estimated a yield of 10.6 tonnes per hectare, with a profit of £1,118 per hectare.

Chloe Dunne @DunneCh10 – who is in her second year of an Integrated Agricultural and Business Management Degree at the University of Nottingham and Sam Bennett who is in his first year of an Agriculture degree course were both on Team Tom, which judges named the winning side for the task.

In next week’s challenge, the finalists get to grips with the work horse of modern farming – the tractor. Watch their progress online in the video series being posted on the Farmers Weekly website.

The Farmer’s Apprentice 2016 gives contestants the chance to win a £25,000 one-year trainee apprenticeship assistant farm manager’s job with the UK’s biggest farm business, Farmcare.

It was set up by Farmers Weekly in response to the challenge of recruiting the best young business minds into agriculture. The idea is to providing a platform from which people from all walks of life can get a foot on the farming ladder.

Meanwhile on BBC1’s The Apprentice, Rebecca Jeffrey a graduate in American and Canadian Studies at The University of Nottingham made it through the first boardroom showdown with business mogul, Alan Sugar following a challenge to buy and sell antiques and collectables in London. “You don’t quite realise how much you want it until you’re in that moment,” said Rebecca on reflection at the end of episode one.

Posted in BiosciencesStudentsUncategorized