Luke top of the crops in science experiment

Prize-winning student Luke Hyde with the challenge trophy
Prize-winning student Luke Hyde with the challenge trophy

Students have been pitched against each other in a top-of the-crops science experiment.

The 18 A-level biologists from St Philip Howard School in Barnham went head-to-head in a challenge set by Tangmere Airfield Nurseries, a family-run pepper producer.

They visited the nursery earlier in the year to find out more about the scientific techniques and challenges involved in growing food crops.

Mark Knight, nurseries manager, said: “The idea for setting up the growing competition is to support the curriculum and help the students to understand the components of good plant growth – sunlight, temperature, as well as give focus to some of the big issues affecting food crops, such as climate change and energy consumption.”

Each student was set the task of nurturing a plant donated by the nursery, with prizes for the tallest plant and the most peppers.

Graham Jones, head of science, said: “The students embraced the competition. It’s amazing how excited even sixth formers get to see ‘their babies’ – the tiny peppers growing on the plants.”

Pepper plants grown in commercial greenhouses average 1cm growth per day. In the science lab, the students averaged 0.5cm per week, which goes to highlight the advantages of modern technology in today’s farming.