Complete: To increase the profitability and sustainability of the UK sugar beet industry through reductions in soil tare

Timescale: 2014 - 2017
Project Lead: Commenced by Colin Walters, completed by Simon Bowen
Project Sponsor: BBRO

Project Summary

Large quantities of soil adhering to beet are delivered to factories during the campaign at considerable cost to the industry in transportation, removal and disposal. Improvements in the design and operation of harvesters and cleaner-loaders that allow better removal of the soil on-farm have mitigated this to some extent. Even so, soil tares in recent campaigns have amounted to around 350,000 tonnes (or the equivalent of 11,000 lorry loads) of soil l delivered to British Sugar’s factories each year at a cost in excess of £2.5 million to the industry.

Main Objectives

This project seeks to determine whether soil tares can be decreased further by changing o-farm storage practices to increase the rate of drying of the soil on lifted beet, thus making more of it removable prior to delivery. The questions it seeks to resolve are: to what extent does store covering help the drying process? And will a reduction in the costs of soil transport and disposal outweigh the potential storage losses of sugar?

The short campaigns of 2015 and 2016 made it difficult to collect viable data.  Therefore, a new element was added in 2016, assessing root shape and its effect on levels of dirt tare.  The objectives set out below relate to this latest piece of work.

Latest Report

Outcomes / Key Message For Growers And Industry

Soil tare continues to be an issue for the industry but is related more to soil type and weather conditions than variety, although there were some very minor varietal differences found. 

With shortened campaigns and the fast changing pace of varieties, it has been concluded that this work, although of interest, holds no long-term benefit for the industry, therefore the BBRO Stakeholder Board has agreed to terminate this work and concentrate on other areas within crop recovery to achieve greater gains for both grower and processor.

Share on
BBRO is a not for profit making company.
We are set up jointly by British Sugar plc and the National Farmers' Union.

British Sugar
National Farmers' Union