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Arable

Beet technology on show at summer open day A British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) open day took place at Morley, near Wymondham in Norfolk, in late June, from where Dominic Kilburn reports. Remote sensing technology which delivered yield increases within two years in sugar cane crops in Africa, could be transferable to the UK sugar beet crop bringing advantages to growers in this country. That’s according to BBRO crop progression lead Dr Simon Bowen, who said that drone analysis of crop canopy index (green matter) generated a huge amount of data, but it was the successful translation of that data that would be key in delivering practical benefits for farmers.

their fields analysed in 2016 to get in touch with the organisation. “We have 30–40 growers already signed up and the more we have, the quicker we will learn about what remote sensing can bring us. “We want to look at fields with sugar beet in them now, but also at fields that will have the next crop of beet. It’s a level of thinking that is new to farming and key to this approach is being able to effectively collect data on crops, convert it into information and understand how we can use this in our crop decision making process.”

detect key pathogens that affect sugar beet such as rust, mildew and ramularia, as well as cercospora, as they arrive from the continent. In addition, the device could also be used for pathogen detection in potato and wheat crops, said Agata.

Seed technology New sugar beet pellet developments are on the way from seed technology company Germains with the aim of

Limagrain’s Bram van der Have.

Automated spore trap

BBRO crop progression lead Dr Simon Bowen.

“Many growers aren’t aware of the difference in yield, for example, between different parts of a field and if by using remote sensing technology we can get the whole area performing to the same level, then it will make a big difference in overall yields. “But it’s how you work with the data and turn it in to something useful which is important and we want to give growers the understanding for the future,” he added. Dr Bowen said that in remote sensing trials which took place in Suffolk during 2015, ‘strong’ crop canopy data clearly highlighted higher yielding (86t/ha) areas of a field compared with areas showing ‘weaker’ canopy data and lower (75t/ ha) yields. As a result, a close look at the field suggested soil structural issues were the cause of the difference in performance, commented Dr Bowen, who added that remote sensing technology could also potentially highlight beet cyst nematode and weed issues. He said that the BBRO ‘Beet remote sensing group’ was inviting growers who are interested in having 8

A device to quickly detect pathogen in the field and instantly relay disease threat information to growers and agronomists, could help deliver better, more targeted use of fungicides in crops. As part of a three-year project led by the BBRO, in partnership with the University of Nottingham, Rothamsted Research and British Sugar, the pathogen spore trap includes a weather station and an antenna for information transfer, as well as a camera to investigate pest movement such as aphids. “Inside the trap is machinery to suck up spores and then identify the pathogen, said the University of Nottingham’s Agata Kaczmarek. “If there’s a positive result to the pathogen inside the trap then a signal is sent to the server with corresponding weather information before calculating, and then advising, whether a spray is required or not,” she explained. The automated spore trap can

University of Nottingham’s Agata Kaczmarek.

Germains’ Richard Nicholls.

continuing to raise yields in the UK crop. Speaking at the event, Germains’ European commercial manager Richard Nicholls said that the new treatment, which was being trialled in a commercial situation on farms this season, would be a continuation of the current pellet technology such as ‘Xbeet plus’ but with new ingredients to aid faster emergence and, ultimately, deliver higher yields. He said that trials would continue into the 2017-planted crop, with the NFU and British Sugar kept up-todate with developments. “We have had very positive feed back from those growers who have used it so far,” commented Mr Nicholls, who stressed that the industry needed additional yield.

High yields New to the BBRO/BSPB Recommended List this season is Betaseed’s BTS 860 variety, marketed in the UK by Limagrain. Speaking at the event was Limagrain’s Bram van der Have who said that 860 offered a similar yield (103.6 adjusted tonnes) to stable-mate BTS 470, but that it is more flexibile in terms of sowing date, and featured low bolting scores in the ‘normal’ sowing window. BTS 470, which represents 11 per cent of the UK sugar beet crop this season, and is in its second year on the List, shouldn’t be sown early, he pointed out, and if growers are determined to sow very early they

should consider a different variety. “We say that sugar beet shouldn’t be drilled before the 4th or 5th March, because of the risk of bolting, and as much as 85 per cent of the crop is sown from mid-March anyway,” he commented. In terms of three year trials data the variety is one of the most consistent in terms of yield, he suggested. “The farmer needs to grow a crop and run a business – and consistency for him is key,” he added. Also new from Limagrain is high yielding BTS 260 (104.1adj t), for the normal sowing slot. Mr van der Have said that with the end of the quota era, growers might have to make tough choices regarding sugar beet. Growers will have to see how the recently announced sugar beet contract (see over page) compares with other crops in the rotation before making their decision, he said. “However other crop options on lighter soils are limited and sugar beet has a place in the rotation where black-grass control is required. “They will have to weigh up the pros and cons,” he added.

Hand weeding Hand roguing bolters and weed beet is the best way of removing them from fields of sugar beet, says Rural and Agricultural Service’s Sebasitian Hall, who runs a business that specialises in running teams of workers on farm. According to Mr Hall, one bolter can release 1,500 seeds on to the soil ready to grow and appear in the following crop and, unlike weed wiping, almost every plant can be removed from the crop if done by hand. “Some of the smaller bolter or weed beet plants can be missed when weed wiping and the booms are not wide enough to make use of tramlines,” he explained. continued over...

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Farmers Guide Magazine August 2016 Issue