Students at Brooksby Melton College are taking part in a project to produce a large potato harvest for one of the world’s largest food producing companies.
They are to plant and harvest 10 acres of potatoes for McCain Foods, working alongside apprentices from agricultural machinery company Grimme.
The aim is for students and the other members of the team to monitor crop growth over a season and get real hands-on experience of the associated machinery operations.
Working in partnership, the college, McCain Foods and Grimme UK have identified a suitable variety of potatoes, made suitable land available and sourced the machinery needed to run the trial successfully.
Mark Bendle, vice-principal at Brooksby Melton College, said: “We’re delighted to be working with our partners in this unique way. The trial provides opportunities for Grimme to use their equipment in a way that benefit both the land-based apprentices and our full-time students here at the college.
“The growing of a potato trial area in association with McCain Foods also provides valuable opportunities for our agricultural students to see how food production needs to be matched to the exacting standards required by modern food manufactures.”
Nick Marriott, estate farm manager at the Brooksby campus, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to work together and give all of the land-based students at Brooksby an opportunity to follow these trials.”
Phil Spencer, a land-based service engineering lecturer at the college, said, “This is a milestone event for the college, with £500,000 worth of machinery available to the students, working in a way to make their apprenticeship even more valuable.”
McCain Foods’ contract and development manager, Richard Mussett, said: “We’re delighted to be involved in this project. It gives the apprentices and students first-hand experience of growing and harvesting high quality potatoes that meet the standards of a major food manufacturer like McCain.
“It will also allow them to see the machinery they’ll be servicing in action on the farm. Engineering knowledge is key in today’s progressive potato industry.”