Sugar beet growers face a constant uncertainty in their expected net crop returns because prices of input materials and beet can fluctuate widely as a result of market forces. Maximising yield is one of the major aims of sugar beet growers and so care is required before compromises are made regarding inputs to the crop. At present, growers can have great difficulty in assessing the cost-effectiveness of a given input in the sugar beet cropping cycle.
The cost-effectiveness of any input depends on its cost (of purchase and application), and the price of beet balanced against the rate of yield increase or the prevention of yield decline from the use of that input. This project examined the economic returns from a range of inputs at different costs for both the input and the beet. The inputs investigated included nitrogen dose, weed control programmes, fungicide treatment against foliar diseases, control of virus yellows and plant population. The project also considered sowing and harvest dates. Within the project several response curves and their associated look-up tables were prepared. These can be used easily to determine the cost-effectiveness of a single input or a range of inputs on a cascading (multiple inputs) basis.
Outcomes / Key Message For Growers And Industry
Prices of both input materials and beet are subject to variable market forces making it difficult for growers to determine the economics of some of their inputs. Crop managers aim for maximum profit and, therefore, need to know the financial implications of their decisions on materials and manpower. It is important that growers are able not only to determine the cost-effectiveness of any inputs but they also need to know which aspects affect yields most. We have prepared relative yield response curves and tables related to management elements of sowing date, harvesting date, seed rate, N fertiliser, virus yellows, fungicide use and timing of weed control. Effective use of these curves and tables depends very much on the integration of a web-based crop yield calculator, based on a crop simulator, into the UKsugarbeet portal website.