A combination of very high (consistently achievable) dry matter yields, excellent digestion efficiency and strong agronomic advantages has resulted in Energy Beet gaining a large slice of the German Energy Crop sector and a rapidly growing share of the burgeoning UK market. Whilst maize remains at the heart of most Energy Crop rotations, Energy Beet, along with Hybrid Rye, is now forming a vital part of farmers strategic plans for achieving the performance required from AD plants and the whole farm enterprise.
Strube are a German based, family owned, independent, specialist, plant breeding business with an excellent record of developing high performing Sugar Beet varieties for the UK market. Using their knowledge of the UK Sugar Beet sector and the expertise gained in successfully supplying the German Energy Beet market, Strube have selected the variety Barents for the UK market. Unlike Sugar Beet seed, which is all processed in the UK, Barents seed is processed by Strube in Germany and UK farmers will, for the first time, be able to directly benefit from Strube’s significant investment in 3D seed technology.
Barents Energy Beet
Specifically selected for the UK “Energy Crop” sector, Barents has the ideal characteristics for energy production.
1. High dry matter yields of high quality substrate for energy production.
2. High quality plants with large tops
3. Clean, well-shaped, low tare, roots for easier harvesting
4. High quality seed maximises yield potential.
5. Good storage characteristics.
6. Rhizomania tolerant, unlike many “Fodder Beets”
Growing and Storing Energy Beet
In most aspects, Energy Beet should be grown as per Sugar Beet. However as the crop is not required to be delivered to a sugar beet factory on a regular basis for the production of sugar there are a number of significant differences.
1. Obviously there is no need to be concerned about the purity of sugar that can be produced from the beet. As a result, increased levels of nitrogen fertiliser may be used to achieve higher yields than would be advisable if growing beet for sugar.
2. There is no need to “crown” the beet as might be the case for Sugar Beet. The tops can be cut higher or defoliated which can effectively increase yields by up to 10% compared to harvesting Sugar Beet.
3. Not being tied into a contract to supply a Sugar Beet Factory means that farmers can take full advantage of the flexibility and potentially very significant yield advantage of Energy Beets potentially VERY long growing season and harvest window. In all but the harshest UK winters, Energy Beet can successfully be harvested from late summer for more than 6 months of the year through to the onset of winter, warm weather and plant growth. Where possible the best place to store Energy Beet is in the ground.
4. Sugar Beet typically is harvested to order and is stored for relatively short periods of time, whole, in well ventilated clamps. Whilst Energy Beet can also be stored in this way, experience has shown that the preferred method for long term storage is to convert the crop into an “apple sauce” type pulp and store it in elevated containers or lagoons. As a result of the German market being ahead of that in the UK, equipment, techniques and advice are available to UK growers to make a success of this storage method.
Advantages of Energy Beet
Compared to alternative choices of Energy Crop, Energy Beet provides farmers with a number of advantages
1. Higher energy levels than maize
2. Stable yields across seasons
3. Excellent rotational advantages
4. High dry matter yields
5. Highly efficient fermentation characteristics
6. Rapid fermentation
7. Facilitates rapid AD plant re-start
Rotational Advantages of Energy Beet
1. Spring Sown – allows time to aggressively manage grass weeds and also to gain from the advantages of using a high performance Catch Crop such as CONTRA oil radish or INTENSIV viterra green manure mixture.
2. Deep Rooting – following crops can gain significantly from the improvement in soil structure, especially maize.
3. Ground Cover – excellent coverage from early summer onwards supresses weeds, conserves soil moisture and reduces soil erosion.
4. Harvest Window – potentially very long, especially compared to maize, resulting in less pressure on already hectic autumn workloads.
5. Drought tolerance – compared too many crops, Energy Beet’s deep root and good ground cover enable it to cope well with periods of drought.
6. Long Growing Season – unlike Maize, Energy Beet has a very long growing season during which poor weather periods are often compensated for resulting in consistently high year on year yields.
Unique Strube Seed Quality
Strube is a leader in the development of high quality beet seed. All seed is produced with the aid of Strube’s unique 3D plus technology, which uses X ray computer tomography to accurately measure and hence control seed quality and development at a minute level. When used in variety development, this technique ensures that only the most vigorous varieties are selected for further development whilst in seed processing it ensures that complete quality control is maintained during processing, priming and treatment operations with the result that only high quality, vigorous seed is delivered to farm.