Friday, December 15, 2017

Award aims to maximise sugar beet yield potential

September 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Crops

HolmerSugarBeetHarvester

A new competition aims to help sugar beet growers increase yields by closing the gap between crop potential and reality.

The British Beet Research Organisation says up to 145t/ha have been achieved – around double the farm average. But that isn’t possible in every field, so the Beet Yield Competition is looking for growers who maximise their own potential rather than simply producing the highest yields.

The competition is a joint initiative between the BBRO, British Sugar, Hutchinsons and NFU. Some 32 growers are taking part this autumn and winners will be those who achieve the highest percentage of theoretical yield potential for their chosen site.

Growth model

Potential is assessed by BBRO using a growth model developed and validated against commercial crops over many seasons. Based on a range of factors – including location, soil type, drilling date, weather and variety – it is revised through the season to account for rainfall variations.

The competition applies to whole fields of at least 2ha, including headlands. Four regional winners, one for each beet factory, will be announced after the 2017/18 campaign ends, from which an overall winner is selected.

“The aim is to increase yields among participating growers and use findings to improve national crop performance,” says Hutchinsons root crop technical manager Darryl Shailes.

Theoretical yield

“Many factors are beyond growers’ control, but there are things which can be managed relatively easily. Until you start measuring the theoretical yield potential of a site you can’t tell how close crops are to fulfilling it.”

As well as comparing actual and potential farm yields, and improving the understanding of how to close the gap between the two, the competition provides opportunity to use aggregate data to examine trends and relationships, says Simon Bowen of BBRO.

“We are integrating all the data on to a common platform provided by KisanHub. Crop development, yield, soil, weather, and rotational information will all be in one place to allow us to analyse the effects of different factors.”

More growers are wanted for 2018/19. Details at bbro.co.uk.

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