New energy beet variety approved for UK growers

UK growers are set to trial a new specialist sugar beet variety this spring, bred specifically for biogas production, following its successful registration on the European variety list.

Gerty KWS features a higher dry matter yield than beet grown for sugar, which helps maximise gas production, says KWS UK beet specialist Simon Witheford.

While most plants are fuelled by energy maize, German biogas producers use high dry matter beet at between 20-35% inclusion rates.

As a result of the registration, UK biogas producers also stand to benefit from growing the variety from spring and starting to use it in biodigestion plants from next autumn.

“Sugar and, therefore, sugar beet, ferments extremely fast – usually in less than 30 days – compared with maize at 60-90 days,” he explains.

“So, by using a mix of maize and beet – with beet as the faster fuel conversion source – producers can sustain high methane production in the biodigester over a prolonged period.”

Mr Witheford says that KWS has been developing new varieties for bio-gas for the past four years. Its research and development team has found a direct correlation between dry matter and bio-gas yield. “Types such as Gerty KWS have 11-12% higher dry matter yields than standard beet for sugar production.”

Mr Witheford says that Gerty KWS will be available direct from KWS, and anticipated strong demand means supplies will be limited in this first year.

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