Working together to drive efficiency and increase sugar beet yield

Around the world, the most efficient method to harvest and deliver sugar beet has been grower groups working towards the approach of ‘Just in Time’ (JIT) lifting and delivering, by reducing harvester and clamp wastage. Walters (2016) reported this to be at best 15.6% as shown in figure 1 detailing potential yield loss in the sugar beet supply chain.

Figure 1

In addition, storage losses of another 0.18% per day adjusted tonne per day at an estimated 12 days storage is 1.44% yield loss, with a reduction of 20% of the sugar. JIT lifting and delivery is the target to reduce these losses.

Following a comprehensive study ‘Maximising the efficiency of the UK Sugar Beet supply chain’, Paul Fishpool Nuffield Scholar 2015 identified several factors affecting the sugar beet production, and most importantly yield including deteriorating soil conditions, climate, time in the ground, harvesting (breakage and surface losses, and bruising), storage, transport, and factory processing capacity.

Climate is the hardest of the variables to control, especially limiting the risk of frost in mid-November to early December identified as the optimum time to harvest sugar beet in the UK. Because of this, UK growers must harvest earlier reducing the yield realisation from equal deliveries to the factory.

British Sugar has identified in figure 2 that even though sugar beet yield has seen improvement over time, in current years it has plateaued with the average yield loss in 2015/16 harvesting reported as 3.27 tonnes per hectare.

Figure 2

We use a Ropa Panther, closely matched to the Ropa Tiger v8-4 in figure 3, which overall is the most efficient.

Figure 3

Working together with P.X. Farms offers the flexibility to:

  • maximise yield potential with planned soil type group lifting
  • incorporate harvester selection to reduce compaction and soil clod with roller technology
  • diminish breakage and surface loss, and bruising with considerate harvesting and handling
  • prolong time in the ground to grow by using in-house services like haulage to deliver direct to factories thus increasing growth time and yield realisation.

Because we grow sugar beet on heavy land at Dry Drayton and lift this first, we then move to client areas like the fens by the end of October. Working with British Sugar we may alter your delivery to aid the early lift and lower yield dependent on the land type within the group enabling and increasing yield as shown on figure 4.

Figure 4

At P.X. Farms, we strive to work with our customers to improve the efficiency of farming, working in harmony with the land, and increasing the yield. If you would like to discuss options on how you can join a lifting group with like-minded people to achieve efficiencies and cost improvements whilst working together more closely for our mutual benefit, please contact us.