Close up of sugar beet© Tim Scrivener

Six sugar beet demonstration farms are set to open their doors this summer, offering growers the chance to learn how to raise their crop yields.

Launched by the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO), the aim is to get growers and researchers working together in addressing key challenges holding back yields by improving agronomic practices.

As Simon Bowen of BBRO explains, UK sugar beet crops are achieving 50-80% of their full potential.

See also: UK plan to build first sugar beet factory for 90 years

Therefore, BBRO hopes to demonstrate some practical innovations at a planned series of farm walks and meetings during 2017.

“These farms are situated throughout the sugar beet growing area, and have very different soil types and growing challenges,” says BBRO head, Colin MacEwan.

On top of this, the six farms were already trying on-farm innovations like the use of cover crops at Rougham Estates.

Six sugar beet demo farms

County

Farm

Soil type

Lincolnshire

Patrick Dean Farms, near Lincoln

Sandy loam

Lincolnshire

MJ Haulage, near Lincoln

Sandy clay loam

Lincolnshire

Proctor Brothers, Long Sutton

Silt

Cambridgeshire

A Jacobs, Moor Farm, near Peterborough

 

Norfolk

Morley Farms, near Wymondham

Sandy clay loam

Suffolk

Rougham Estates, near Bury St Edmunds

Sandy loam

Mr Bowen highlights three key objectives of the demonstration farm network, the first being to work on aspects of crop development best addressed on a whole field and rotational level.

This includes the use of cover cropping and applying organic matter to improve soil health.

Second is to support on-farm innovations, such as strip tillage, and measuring the impact of these innovations.

Finally, to scale up new agronomic practices and technology from BBRO replicated plot trial work to commercial scale. This could be new ways of establishing crops, crop nutrition and disease management.

While innovations being tested will differ by farm, one constant across the network is that commercial strips of the eight key varieties from the Recommended List are being grown at all sites. Therefore, farmers have the chance to see them in the field side-by-side.

Beet grower interested can look out for details of events by visiting the “Demonstration Farms” section of the BBRO website.