East Anglian farmers urged to replenish soil nutrients after bumper sugar beet crop

Sugar beet delivered to the British Sugar factory at Cantley. Picture: Nick Butcher

Sugar beet delivered to the British Sugar factory at Cantley. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

East Anglian farmers have been warned not to underestimate the amount of nutrients they are removing from the soil when lifting bumper crops of sugar beet and other root crops.

Following good growing conditions across the region, British Sugar is predicting sugar production for this campaign will rise from 900,000 to 1.4m tonnes.

But if growers are achieving 10pc higher than their average yield, they should ensure the soil’s reserves of phosphate and potash (P and K) are replenished with their next fertiliser dressing, said Alan Gray, sales manager for Origin Fertilisers.

Mr Gray, who more than 30 years of experience recommending sugar beet fertilisers to East Anglian farmers, said: “Most soil sampling will have been completed before sugar beet and root crops were planted, so the results may not accurately indicate the effect of this year’s bumper yields.

“80 tonnes per hectare of sugar beet removes 136 kilos of potash, so it stands to reason that a 10pc increase in yield will have depleted the soil reserves by a similar 10pc amount.

“When using soil sample results taken before the root crop was established, growers must not overlook the bumper offtake and should look to top up phosphate and potash when convenient, perhaps combined with N (nitrogen) as an NPK fertiliser in the spring.”

Origin Fertilisers has 12 sites throughout the country, including the former Bunn Fertiliser factory in Great Yarmouth, following the £14.2m acquisition of the 200-year-old Norfolk-based company earlier this year.

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