A TEAM from Newcastle University were runners-up in the 2019 Cereals Challenge, but won the Environmental Challenge.

The Challenge - which saw Harper Adams University win the £1,500 prize money and trophy - saw five teams manage their virtual plots of spring barley, while managing black-grass as realistically as possible. They took full responsibility for all aspects of crop management, from cultivation choice to fungicide strategy through the season, as though it was a real crop.

This year saw the Environmental Challenge introduced. It had a total prize fund of £500 for the team that demonstrated the strongest awareness of environmental protection and integrated pest management (IPM) principles.

Won by the Newcastle team of Louise Penn, Tom Astill, Jack Harley and Christian Churchill, judges Matt Ward of Farmacy and Phil Jarvis of the Game and Wildlife Conservancy Trust, were impressed with the clarity of the advice, provided by the team - "not just what to do and where, but why."

"They also went the extra mile suggesting community engagement, being members of LEAF and signposting to a biobed grant," said Mr Ward.

Louise Penn, team captain, said: "Throughout the challenge we always kept the environment in mind; whether through selecting different modes of action, using urease inhibitors to reduce ammonia emissions, or integrating cultural controls and stewardship options.

"With the Basic Payment Scheme changing into the new Environmental Land Management system in the future, for our generation, having a good understanding of the environment will definitely be the way forward for farming."