Sugar Beet

For many years sugar beet has been an important cash crop to English farmers and most is grown in eastern England and the West Midlands. The area of land growing sugar beet has reduced from 170,000 hectares in 2000 to nearer 115,000 today, though yields per hectare have increased. The complex rules of the CAP have now been revised and it is possible that this will lead to more sugar beet being grown in future and the contract price for 2012 is up by 15% compared with this year.

Sugar beet makes a good break crop in a cereal / legume rotation, cleans the soil and can restore much-needed organic matter to an arable soil, reducing the rate of leaching of nutrients.

The micronutrient deficiencies that most affect this crop are manganese, copper, boron and iron. The soil types commonly used to grow sugar beet are usually rich in iron, but are deficient in the other minerals and whilst this is often due to a simple lack of a particular mineral, it is more often caused by an imbalance. For example, there can be an adequate level of copper in the soil, but an excess of nitrogen, phosphorus, molybdenum or zinc can restrict the ability of the plant to take up the copper.
One of the benefits of improving mineral levels in a soil is that the plants are more efficient at producing sugars. For example, Lucerne grown on trace element optimised soil will produce so much sugar that the cut crop ‘oozes’ sugar and the crop sticks to your hand! This is obviously an important consideration when growing sugar beet!

Field Science only manufactures mineral dressings specifically tailored for a piece of land, based on detailed soil analysis. This is in order to optimise plant availability of nutrients and to avoid imbalance and nutrient "lock-up" and it is as important to a crop of sugar beet as it is to a field of grass.