Complete: Understanding water use efficiency in sugar beet

Timescale: 2016 - 2020
Project Lead: Georgina Barratt, PhD student
Project Sponsor: University of Nottingham and BBRO

Project Summary

This project focuses on water use efficiency (WUE) in sugar beet, which examines the plant’s water use and the associated yields achieved. Sugar beet is often observed to wilt in the field even when soil water is freely available, resulting in lost yield potential. Sugar beet stomata, leaf pores through which water loss is controlled, are slow to respond to water stress. This response, and other traits of interest related to water regulation, are often inherited from its wild ancestor, Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima. The aim is to understand the behaviour of sugar beet under water stress, with a focus on the crop canopy, and the impact of a number of traits on WUE and whether they can be manipulated through management practices and/or breeding.

Main Objectives

  • To identify sugar beet traits linked to water conservation with a focus on leaf and canopy traits
  • To understand if the traits identified can be explored to increase WUE
  • To understand the impact management practices have on WUE

Outcomes / Key Message For Growers And Industry

Glasshouse, large boxes and field experiments will be utilised to explore factors which affect WUE in sugar beet. This work will be undertaken with the UK climate in mind and will therefore include the assessment of sugar beet WUE under drought stress. The influence of management practices on sugar beet WUE such as variety selection, irrigation and tillage, which may affect the factors identified as influencing WUE, can then be assessed.

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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