18 January 2000
Progress reported in rhizo battle

RHIZOMANIA-hit farms transferred 138,000 contracted tonnes of beet production on to clean farms in the first season of the joint British Sugar/NFU stewardship scheme.

That represents over 35% of the tonnage affected by rhizomania restrictions, helping limit the spread of the disease and underpinning the UKs rhizomania protected zone status within the EU, say the NFU and BS.

Bids were over-subscribed by 12 times, ensuring a pool price of 13.70/t for growers hit by the sugar-beet virus, which is spread by a soil-borne fungus.

MAFFs 1999 rhizomania survey recorded 52 outbreaks covering 1700ha.

Meanwhile, recycled heat, power and water from British Sugars Wissington factory near Downham Market, Norfolk is to support a 5ha (12 acre) glasshouse scheme producing 3000t of tomatoes a year.

The project, in association with Hull-based Humber Growers, will also use carbon dioxide from the factory to enhance growth rates.

Building is due to start this spring and could be extended to 15ha (37 acres) with an overall investment of 7m.