Nieuws - 11 december 2009

Students vie for best farmer title

Three teams of undergraduate and PhD students from Wageningen University and van Hall Larenstein are competing in the finals for the title of 'Best Farmer in the Netherlands'. Supporters can cast their votes online.

This is a contest in which business acumen is most important', says the Wageningen PhD student Willem Rijpkema. He goes by the name of PeelHeeren in the online simulation contest 'Beste Boer van Nederland'. He has battled his way through four preliminary rounds against some 750 teams and now occupies the second place. Rijpkema took part last year too, but did not make it to the finals. 'I have my act together this time and don't take too big steps, the aspiring best farmer says. The contest is about managing a mixed farm. Contestants had gone through four rounds of running their digital companies and making virtual investments, for example, by buying land or animals.
Bad harvest
Rijpkema has placed most of his stakes in pig farming. 'That seemed easy to me in the game. Besides, my PhD research is about pigs.' However, he has also kept the dairy business and the agricultural activities going. 'You have to spread your risks. The game has built into every round low prices or a bad harvest.'
Broadening the business scope is also the successful strategy of his two ex-classmates in the MSc course Agrotechnology. The team of Aldert van der Veen and Arjan Vroegop, DuoAV, is the current game leader.
A team with a student from Van Hall Larenstein is also among one of the eighteen finalists. Eline Spalink is in the third year of the Agricultural Entrepreneurship study in VHL Leeuwarden. Her parents have a dairy farm. She participates using the name MDFAgrar, with a good friend who owns an agriculture business. In the virtual situation, they have also concentrated on dairy animals and agriculture. 'You have to do what you are good in.' Spalink finds the contest educative. 'It's realistic because you have to make decisions a year ahead, so to speak. But it's in fact a management game. The care for the animals is assigned to other workers.'
For the finals, the teams have submitted short films about their virtual farms. These can be seen online at You can vote for your favourite team up to 14 December. The first prize is a balloon flight or a trip to Paris.