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Sugar beet: Sustainability through partnership

Sugar beet provides the raw material for our various sugar products. In the seven countries where we produce sugar from sugar beet, close to 15,000 growers will typically grow around 250,000 hectares of sugar beet destined to be processed in our factories into high-quality sugar products. Sugar beet farming sustainability is therefore a high priority for us, for the sake of both the environment and our Business.

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Working with growers

Nordzucker has a tradition of developing long-term relationships with beet growers. Our farmers have typically grown beet for us for many years, making them highly skilled and specialised. By working together for our common interests and harnessing our shared expertise, we continuously improve the sustainability and productivity of beet farming practices, ensuring that the needs of the future can be met.

 

 

Research and development

One way we support farming sustainability is through our work in agricultural research and development. When new knowledge becomes available that could lead to improvements in beet farming ­– for example, by using less fertiliser or increasing production efficiency – we share this knowledge directly with our growers. In this way we can work together to improve farming practices while further strengthening our relationships with growers.

Impact

 

Our knowledge-sharing approach has had a major positive impact on beet-farming sustainability over the past few decades. For example, the use of nitrogen fertilization among our beet growers has been reduced, while in the same period yields have almost doubled. Since 2010 N application has dropped from 11 to 7.5 kg/t we now need much less nitrogen to produce a tonne of sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A naturally sustainable crop

By nature, sugar beet is an environmentally friendly crop. It has a deep root system that is good for soil structure. Sugar beet makes good use of available nutrients, and needs far less nitrogen fertilizer than most other crops grown in the sugar beet areas. Sugar beet continues to grow in the autumn when other crops are already harvested and keeps absorbing nitrogen from the soil, reducing the risk of nitrogen leakage.

Sugar beets are always grown in a crop rotation alternating with other crops, and they are important for breaking off rotations that would otherwise be too dominated by cereals. This lessens the prevalence of weeds, plant pests and diseases, both in the sugar beet and in other crops, and is an important part of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Our sugar beets are grown on fertile soils suited for beet growing and close to our sugar factories.