Four organisations with an interest in sugar beet are collaborating over a competition aiming to help sugar beet growers close the gap between the theoretical potential and actual farm yields. 

The Beet Yield Competition is a joint initiative between the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO); British Sugar; Hutchinsons and the NFU for the 2017/18 campaign. The BBRO notes that beet yields of up to 145t/ha have been achieved in UK trials, around double the average output on commercial farms.

The organisers have selected 32 growers to take part, with entrants ranked by their achieving the highest percentage of theoretical yield potential for their chosen site, whole fields of a minimum 2haincluding headlands. The baseline potential is assessed by the BBRO using a beet growth model developed and validated against commercial crops over many seasons. It is based on a range of factors including location, soil type, drilling date, weather and variety, with ongoing revisions to account for rainfall variations.

There will be four regional winners, one in each British Sugar beet factory area, and an overall winner to be announced after the 2017/18 beet campaign.

“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. “Many factors are beyond a grower’s 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.”

Dr Simon Bowen of BBRO adds: “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. The more data we collect the more powerful this analysis becomes.”