£28/ha for reduced carbon is a winner with sugar beet growers

A new NFU pilot scheme for sugar beet growers offering a premium payment for reducing their carbon footprint has proved so popular it has been oversubscribed within 24 hours.

Under the scheme, launched on Monday (24 June), growers who have engaged in “nitrogen placement” this spring – the practice of placing nitrogen fertiliser alongside the seed to optimise nutrient take-up – have been able to claim an extra £28/ha from Nestlé.

See also: Tips on using foliar sprays to control virus yellows in beet

Nitrogen placement is seen as a way of producing sugar more efficiently, with less artificial fertiliser.

The scheme has been developed by NFU Sugar in partnership with NFU Energy and Landscape Enterprise Network. It is designed to help Nestlé source more “low carbon sugar”.

Even though about 20 growers have now taken up the contracts available for 2024, the NFU is keen to see the scheme develop further for 2025, so that more growers can share the benefit next season.

NFU Sugar Board chairman Michael Sly said: “We have been working with NFU Energy and Nestlé on the project for the past two years, and it’s really exciting to see the scheme now launched.

“The scheme shows the ambitious work of NFU Sugar and UK beet growers to deliver a climate-friendly sector, while also giving growers the opportunity to be incentivised and fairly rewarded for producing sugar beet in a lower carbon manner.

“I hope this pilot paves the way for further opportunities to work with supply chain partners in incentivising growers to adopt lower carbon production methods.”

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