6 June 1997

Beet growers might benefit from the net

SUGAR beet farmers in East Anglia are to be the first in the UK to benefit from an Internet project which will provide a weekly report on the state of their crops.

The interactive scheme, which has been drawn up by the Morley Research Centre and computer firm MasterWeb, will be used to disseminate information on disease, rainfall and fertiliser used on farms within the East Anglia Objective 5b area.

It has been promised joint European and MAFF funding, and so far, 20 farmers in the area, which covers rural Norfolk, the Fens, and east Suffolk, have signed up to the scheme.

Mike Inskipp, MasterWeb spokesman, said the company was setting up the communications network to each farm. Using e-mail, beet growers will be able to report on the state of their crops during the season on a weekly basis.

"We decided to concentrate on sugar beet because it is the most valuable crop in this part of East Anglia. It will be a free service and if successful we intend to use this pilot project to launch the scheme nationwide."

Ben Freer, Morley Research Centre spokesman, said information from growers would be collated at its Wymondham centre, and that a report would then be put on the Internet for subscribers to view.

Mr Freer said the aim of the service would be to give guidance to growers to help them decide if, when and what treatments were necessary for their crops. &#42