Winter Wheat Challenge

Mains of Loirston Winter Wheat Challenge

The 2015-16 Winter Wheat Challenge, organised across three crop trial sites by Scotland’s Rural College and supported by the Mains of Loirston Trust, is rapidly nearing its conclusion. Competing teams of students have agreed the important fungicide spray treatments they will use on their crops at the T2 and T3 growth stages.

There will be an opportunity to see their progress and discuss the choices made during the annual Cereals in Practice event held at Saphock Farm near Old Meldrum in Aberdeenshire on Tuesday 5th July.

The eventual winners of the Winter Wheat Challenge will be revealed at Scottish farming’s Agri Scot event in the autumn. Each crop, grown in Aberdeenshire, Perthshire and Midlothian, will be harvested, a market price independently assessed and the profit made on each entry calculated, taking account of the production costs, including seed rate, fertiliser and spray applications.

“Fifteen teams, spread across the SRUC campuses, together with a team drawn from the on-line MSc course in Applied Professional Practice SRUC delivers, are actively competing this year,” says co-ordinator Scott Murray. “The approaches of the different teams become more apparent at this stage of the season. For instance, one team decided not to apply an autumn herbicide, relying on the crop to help smother the weeds. The crop is now noticeably weedier than others, but we will only know at the end if that approach has been cost effective.”

An independent judgement on progress came from invited assessors, agronomist Charlie Catto of Frontier and Gavin Dick of industry body AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds. They met the teams and gave constructive feedback on their various management strategies, selecting the crops they thought looked most promising.

Scott Murray

Lecturer, Agriculture and Business Management Department

Address: Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG.

Telephone: 0131 535 4247

E-mail: Scott.Murray@sruc.ac.uk