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 in German beet growing has dropped from 11 to 8.7 kg/t we now need much less nitrogen to produce a tonne of sugar.
By nature, sugar beet is an environmentally friendly crop. It has a deep root system that is good for the soil structure in crop rotation. Sugar beet makes good use of available nutrients, and needs less nitrogen fertilizer than most other crops grown in the sugar beet areas. Sugar beet continues to grow 1in the autumn when other crops are already harvested and keeps absorbing nitrogen from the soil, reducing the risk of nitrogen leakage.
Sugar beet is 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). In all Nordzucker countries, our growers are following national Integrated Pest Management plans to avoid unnecessary applications of plant protection products and act according to the following guidelines: 1) Observe and monitor for pest and diseases, 2) Assess potential alternatives, e.g. naturally occurring beneficial insects already in the field, 3) act when a clearly defined threshold has been reached and no alternative is applicable. Our growers are here supported by national research institutions through seasonal monitoring.