SUGAR BEET CHALLENGE - Farmers Weekly

Subscribe and save

Farmers Weekly from £133
Saving £46
In print AND tablet

SUBSCRIBE NOW

sub_ad_img

SUGAR BEET CHALLENGE

20 July 2001

SUGAR BEET CHALLENGE

All Du Pont/farmers weekly

Sugar Beet Grower

Challenge finalists grow

good yields. Peter Grimshaw

reports on a grower whose

management has set

crop performance on a particularly healthy

upward curve

YIELD of sugar beet at 769ha (1900-acre) Wyndmere Farm, Steeple Morden, Herts, had steadily declined from 68.61 adjusted t/ha in 1996 to 58.79t/ha in 1998.

But the two succeeding years saw previous yields restored, to 67.31 and 66.88t/ha, respectively. The arrival of Challenge finalist Tim Stokes, as manager of the companys three estates totalling 1600ha (4000 acres) played a key part in that process.

His uncompromisingly commercial approach, combined with attention to detail, impressed the Challenge judges. Similar attitudes are reflected by individual farm managers and farm staff in a busy cropping operation.

The transfer of 3100 contract tonnes from E W Peppers Norfolk farm under the rhizomania transfer scheme, has more than doubled the beet area.

The farm manager at Wyndmere Farm is Sandy Irving, with whom BASIS qualified Mr Stokes walks the crops weekly. He also runs a monthly agronomy group, and staff attend meetings. All spray operators are qualified to BASIS standards.

Mr Stokes associates good soil fertility with soil structure. Although he is an instinctive advocate of ploughing, he tested minimum tillage for the current season, using a Simba Solo disc combination, with encouraging results. "We left the straw, disced it in, and despite the wet winter, we flew over it in spring and drilled it without problems."

He says successful straw incorporation begins with good combining. "The real secret is to cut low, and turn all the straw to dust with the chopper."

Company policy of making land work hard means break crops, including sugar beet, have to pay. Meanwhile, it is hoped to narrow the one-year-in-eight potato rotation to one in six. Cereals are grown, but wheats 10% contribution to turnover, precludes second crops.

Oilseed rape does not fit, but with 80ha (200 acres) of onions, now becoming replaced by peas and beans, there is little room for error. Sugar beet comes round every six or seven years and is considered essential to overall profitability, while offering control benefits for problem weeds wild oats and blackgrass.

In places the silty to chalky loam is only 25cm (8in) deep above the chalk bedrock, but drought stress is rare, the chalk acting like a sponge. Manure from the now-ceased pig enterprise kept soil organic levels typically about 7-8%.

High pH suggests potential Mn deficiency, and manganese sulphate was applied to the Challenge crops at a rate of 3kg/ha on Apr 23, and 3.5kg on June 1. For the competition crop fertiliser inputs ranged in cost from £55-£120/ha, depending upon soil indices.

Favoured varieties are Roberta and Duke, and Jessica is being tried, but Mr Stokes considers husbandry is more influential than relatively small differences between varieties.

Last years herbicide costs varied between £75-£131/ha, depending upon weed type in each field. The policy on weed control is simple: To spray whatever is needed, whenever it is needed. That may mean up to four applications, all chosen specifically for the problem in hand. But a careful balance includes tractor hoeing, especially around headlands.

Pre-emergence herbicide is not generally used for sugar beet. Post-emergence treatment is typically a Betanal product (phenmedipham) at 1-1.5 litres/ha; Goltix (metamitron) at 0.8-0.5kg/ha. Debut (triflusulfuron-methyl) was applied to the Challenge crop on May 6 at 30g/ha, mixed with a further 0.75 litres/ha of Betanal Progress.

With 120ha (300 acres) of potatoes in the rotation, volunteer potato control is essential. Dow Shield (clopyralid) is used if there is any problem, and even hand weeding, where necessary. Hand pullers may also be called in to clear weed beet.

Target sugar beet population is 85,000-95,000/ha, achieved with a 12-row Exacta drill that is at least 20 years old, but still covers up to 28ha (70 acres) a day at 45cm (18in) spacing. Seed cost for the year 2000 crop was £137/ha.

Aphicide control policy is to go on early, if needed. Gaucho (imidacloprid) is used as a seed dressing and Aphox (pirimicarb) may be used as follow-up.

Fungicide cost last season came to just £12/ha, for 0.5 litres of Punch C (carbendazim + flusilazole) and 10kg/ha of sulphur.

There has been a progressive move to earlier liftings, and last years first delivery was on Sept 27, six weeks earlier than in 1996. Storage is then in a large, covered building with a concrete floor and side-walls, that holds 1200-1500t. Outside storage uses earth-walled clamps.

Everything is passed over a cleaner loader. Final deliveries in the past five years have been in February, but this, too, is being brought forward, to reduce losses.

The company will be joining the Countryside Stewardship Scheme this autumn, which will focus even more attention on reducing chemical inputs. &#42

Stay in top 10%

Now that yields have restored Wyndmere Farm to the top 10% of growers league, Mr Stokes intends to keep them there. But with an eye to alternative land uses, he also aims to meet his quota from the smallest possible area, while maximising returns from sugar beet. Meanwhile, the rotational benefits of a good beet crop are valued for their contribution to the rotation as a whole. While there is still the potential to achieve better sugar yields, good progress has been made in reducing amino nitrogen content. At 112, last years levels produced a useful bonus.

TIM STOKES

&#8226 Wyndmere Farm.

&#8226 98.54ha, 5456 A/B.

&#8226 66.88t/ha adjusted.

&#8226 16.9% sugar, 6.4% dirt, 8.5% top.

&#8226 Silt loam over chalk.

TIM STOKES

&#8226 Wyndmere Farm.

&#8226 98.54ha, 5456 A/B.

&#8226 66.88t/ha adjusted.

&#8226 16.9% sugar, 6.4% dirt, 8.5% top.

&#8226 Silt loam over chalk.

Stay in top 10%

Now that yields have restored Wyndmere Farm to the top 10% of growers league, Mr Stokes has intends to keep them there. But with an eye to alternative land uses, he also aims to meet his quota from the smallest possible area, while maximising returns from sugar beet. Meanwhile, the rotational benefits of a good beet crop are valued for their contribution to the rotation as a whole. While there is still the potential to achieve better sugar yields, good progress has been made in reducing amino nitrogen content. At 112, last years levels produced a useful bonus.

    Read more on:
  • News

SUGAR BEET CHALLENGE

16 February 2001

SUGAR BEET CHALLENGE

DO you know your black-bindweed from your redshank and can you tell the difference between flea beetle and leaf miner damage? If you can, you could be in line for the £1000 top prize in our easy-to-enter competition.

If you can correctly answer the simple questions below you could be on your way to a £1000 boost to your personal current account this summer.

In association with agrochemicals supplier DuPont, farmers weekly is looking for growers who can most ably demonstrate the skills required to profit from beet production. Top yield is not the sole criteria. We are looking for evidence of appropriate input use, low overhead costs and environmental responsibility too.

Entrants who successfully complete the questionnaire stage of the competition will enter a round of on-farm judging this summer.

To enter, simply answer the questions below. Who knows, you could be £1000 better off before this years crop is even harvested!

SUGAR BEET GROWER CHALLENGE 2001 – ENTRY FORM

Name……………………………………………………………………………………..

Address…………………………………………………………………………………..

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

……………………………………………Post code…………………………………..

Tel………………………………………..Fax……………………………………………

Farm size……………………………….Beet area……………………………………

Varieties grown………………………………………………………………………….

………………………………………………………………………………………………

Typical yield…………………………………………….

Typical sugar content…………………Typical tare………………………………..

1. Which of these products will control cleavers, volunteer oilseed rape and fools parsley? o Debut o Venzar Flo o Vydate

2. Which of the following problems has the greatest potential for yield loss in the sugar beet crop? o Rhizomania o Manganese deficiency o Weed beet

3. What was the average cost of controlling broad-leaved weeds in sugar beet in 2000? o £72/ha o £95/ha o £106/ha

4. What does BBRO stand for? o British Board of Root Organisations

o Big Beet Rule Okay

o British Beet Research Organisation

5. What base fertiliser should be applied to a field with index 3 for phosphate, potash and magnesium? o 50 kg/ha P2O5, nil kg/ha K2O, nil kg/ha MgO

o nil kg/ha P2O5, nil kg/ha K2O, nil kg/ha MgO

o nil kg/ha P2O5, 100 kg/ha K2O, nil kg/ha MgO

Please send the completed entry form to: Sugar Beet Challenge, farmers weekly, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS,Or fax to 020 8652 4005. Closing date: March 2 2001

£1000 to win

The winner will be presented with a cheque for £1000 and a trophy to keep. All finalists will be invited to an expenses paid awards presentation at the Cereals 2001 event near Royston, Herts in June. All finalists receive a special framed certificate.

Sponsors message

In the 2001 sugar beet campaign, the clear aim for growers is to achieve maximum possible returns from this important arable crop. With beet values down, factories closing and the legacy of the wettest winter on record to contend with it will not be an easy challenge.

Obtaining higher sugar yields from fewer acres of beet than ever is clearly the goal. But after another relatively mild, albeit wet winter, we can anticipate early flushes of competitive weeds, potentially higher levels of volunteer potatoes and an increased threat of powdery mildew.

That is where DuPont can play its part in this challenge. Our aim is to help growers realise the true potential of their crops by providing cost-effective weed and disease control in order to boost returns.

Since its introduction six years ago, thousands of growers have used Debut (triflusulfuron-methyl) together with Venzar (lenacil) in value-for-money programmes to enhance their overall weed control, especially on difficult weeds like volunteer oilseed rape, potatoes and cleavers. Just one oilseed rape or potato volunteer per square metre can reduce yield by up to 8% and volunteer potatoes can facilitate the carry over of PCN!

Indications are that powdery mildew levels are likely to be high again for 2001. In independent trials Punch C (flusilazole + mbc) has given the greatest improvement in gross margin when compared with other azole fungicides or sulphur. That reflects Punch Cs broad spectrum of activity, giving control of powdery mildew, rust, and ramularia.

Good management and best practice will be key to your success.

Good luck with this years challenge.

RULES

1. The competition is open to all bona fide farmers and farm managers in the UK.

2. Complete the entry form in ink and post or fax to the address on the coupon.

3. Closing date is Mar 2 2001.

4. Late, incomplete, mutilated and illegible entries will be disqualified, as will any which do not comply with these rules. No responsibility will be accepted for entries delayed or lost in the post.

5. The judges will be appointed by farmers weekly and DuPont. Their decision will be final. No correspondence will be entered into.

6. The winner and finalists will be announced and presentations made at a reception at Cereals 2001, near Royston, Herts in June. Entrants must agree to attend the event and co-operate in subsequent publicity.

    Read more on:
  • News

SUGAR BEET CHALLENGE

30 June 2000

SUGAR BEET CHALLENGE

Sugar beet is a key crop for

many arable farmers and

none more so than the three

finalists in the Du Pont/

farmers weekly Sugar Beet

Grower Challenge 2000.

Here Charles Abel profiles

the competition winner

DROUGHT is the biggest issue confronting Mark Irelands 166ha (410 acres) of sugar beet mostly grown on brashy heath soils near Sleaford, Lincs.

With C-beet values on the floor the pressure is on to minimise over-production without jeopardising A and B quota production.

It is a fine line to tread with contracts totalling 7398t. But an area cut, new varieties, earlier drilling at lower seed rates and a husbandry policy geared to maximising late crop growth is paying dividends.

Mr Ireland farms 1004ha (2480 acres) with his father and brother from Grange Farm, North Rauceby, near Sleaford. The beet area includes 63ha (156 acres) grown on contract for his neighbouring uncle.

"Risk management is the key for us on this droughty land. If we dont get the rain yield can slip to 11-12t/acre." In the past that has meant a hefty area of extra beet as insurance, leading to huge C-beet production if rainfall was adequate. This year saw the total area cut 10.5% from 114ha (282 acres).

To ensure that still meets A and B quota drilling has moved earlier, now starting around March 10, to achieve maximum leaf cover as early as possible. A 45cm (18in) row width also helps.

Variety choice favours fast growing types like Ariana. Early sight of new lines from breeder Delitzsch helps steer choice.

Target population is 75,000 plants/ha. But 95% establishment is unlikely given problems with stones and mice, Mr Ireland comments. Slower drilling, stone pushers and deeper drilling at 4.5cm (1.75in) are helping.

A seed rate reduction from 1.3 units/ha to 1.1 has cut cost and produces a more regular beet size with no impact on yield. Further cuts may be tried, an area accidentally drilled at 0.9 units/ha yielding well last year. "But we have not had a dry spring yet," Mr Ireland comments.

At the other end of the season harvest is delayed to maximise yield. "The land does suit November/December lifting," notes Mr Ireland.

That means crops need keeping disease-free. A triazole spray of Alto240 (cyproconazole) or Punch C (flusilazole + mbc) is preferred to sulphur, giving faster work rates at 200 litres/ha, good control of rusts and suppression of mildew.

Lifting is carried out with a Riecam 300 tanker which covers 506ha (1250 acres) a season. "We could do more, but it must be at the right price. It costs us £42.50/t including carting, so lifting for less than £50/acre makes no sense. I would rather put the machine in the shed and expect a longer working life from it," says Mr Ireland.

"It also means we have the capacity to lift when we want to. We can do 35 acres a day, but to make a good job of it we prefer to run at 25."

Delivering clean beet is a priority. Beet is left to stand for 4-5 days to shed soil and beet from stony ground goes over a picking table. "Total tare averaged 9.6% last year against a 10% target, so we were pleased."

Technical excellence continues throughout the season, inputs being adjusted to the specific needs of each field, with autumn soil testing dictating P and K rates and regular field walking influencing spray rates.

Mr Ireland is BASIS qualified and does all his own field-walking. "It means I am in each field every 2-3 days in April, so we are more in touch with what is going on and can really fine-tune inputs."

Nitrogen rates have been cut in recent years to 120kg/ha this year, split between liquid urea mixed with chloridazon pre-em herbicide and granular N once plants have 2-4 true leaves. This year some Hydro Probeta compound granules are being tried.

Weed beet is pursued with inter-row hoeing and hand pulling, the goal being to eliminate the yield-sapping weed. But weed wiping is unpopular, sometimes leading to rotting beet in the clamp, Mr Ireland notes.

British Sugars benchmarking scheme is helping the drive to improved productivity and reduced costs, Mr Ireland comments.

Last years costs were well down on 1998, Gaucho-treated seed tumbling from £160/ha to £132, fertiliser from £89 to 77, herbicide £91 to £75 and fungicide £10 to £5.70/ha. &#42

June 9 and Mark Irelands beet is well on the way to a respectable yield. A fast start and careful crop management is helping stabilise yield on droughty heath land near Sleaford, Lincs.

MARKIRELAND

&#8226 166ha, 7398t A/B.

&#8226 60.74t/ha adjusted.

&#8226 17.8% sugar, 4% dirt, 6.2% top.

&#8226 Sandy loam soils.

&#8226 Drought prone.

&#8226 Less C-beet goal.

&#8226 Own field-walking.

DuPonts Craig Chisholm (left) presents the award.

Beets future

In future Mr Ireland hopes to extend the rotation to one in five years, thanks to land coming out of an NSA premium grass scheme. That will help combat weed beet.

Extra quota is also desired. "The new agreement with British Sugar helps, paying us back with more quota for low tares. But the scale cut on sugars is a bit disappointing," he says.

Rationalising equipment use is a further goal, a plough, press, drill approach having been experimented with, but making accurate topping difficult in the past. The existing drill can not be adapted for tramlining, so that will have to wait until a new machine is bought.

Assurance holds no fears, Mr Ireland already having been included in the BS Food Safety Audit twice. "We have nothing to hide."

GM varieties would help technically and could cut costs, he adds. But Mr Ireland accepts that he will have to wait until consumers are ready before gaining access to the new technology.

    Read more on:
  • News
blog comments powered by Disqus