Agriculture students at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) were challenged to be the ‘best in grass’ in a competition sponsored by fertiliser company Yara.
The NC students at SRUC’s Barony campus, near Dumfries, worked in nine teams to produce the best grassland plot using one of seven fertilisers from Yara’s range of products.
As part of the competition, which started in early March before the Covid-19 lockdown, students marked out 25-square-metre plots on an established grass ley at Crichton Royal Farm. They then took a soil sample, chose a fertiliser, and calculated the rates and whether to apply it in one or two applications.
After administering the first application, and with social distancing regulations in place, students handed their instructions over to Crichton’s research and farm staff who applied a second application of fertiliser as required in April, and earlier this month harvested and determined yields and dry matters for each plot.
Fresh weight yields ranged from 31.16 t/Ha on a treated plot to 15.40 t/ha on one of two untreated plots, and the dry matter ratio ranged from 16.78 per cent to 20.05 per cent on the treated plots. Due to the circumstances, results were based only on t/Ha of dry matter rather than other factors such as nutrient quality and nitrogen use efficiency.
First place went to Hamish Carr and Alistair Craig, who applied 135 kg/Ha of Yara’s Amidas fertiliser in a single application giving 6.14 t/Ha DM.
Second place went to Erin Greenhow and Ben Mitchell, who opted for two applications of Actyva S, and Thomas Scott and Louise McLauchlan, who used two applications of Axan, were third.
Agriculture lecturer Gemma Waugh said: “The grassland competition has been really good for the students to put what they learn in the classroom into practise.
“They all got very involved with the practical aspects of the competition before the Covid-19 lockdown and it is great the competition could be completed, albeit not as originally planned.
“Well done to Hamish and Alistair as well as all the other Barony NC Agriculture students who took part.”
Philip Cosgrave, Yara’s chief grassland agronomist, said: “Well done to both Hamish and Alistair for their impressive result. Achieving DM yields of over 5t/DM in the first week of May is very good, but breaking the 6t is impressive.”