Feb 21 2019

Pushing the performance of inputs in Sugar Beet

Sugar beet is one of the most responsive crops to good agronomy, but requires careful management when it comes to pushing yields and maximising profitability. In this feature we look at how adjuvants and biostimulants can help.

Establishing a fit and healthy crop, free from weed, disease and pest competition is critical in the production of a high yielding sugar beet crop destined to yield 100+ t/ha, and that means pushing the performance of inputs and plant health, believes Stuart Sutherland, Technical Manager at Interagro.

“From emergence through to six true leaves, sugar beet is extremely vulnerable to weed competition, where poor control can limit yield by as much as 30%. Early control of yield robbing weeds such as redshank and knotgrass can be best achieved with the inclusion of a suitable adjuvant to improve the effectiveness of pre- and post-emergence sprays, suggests Mr. Sutherland.

“At the pre-emergence spray timing the target is the soil, so the aim is to maximise coverage with the herbicide spray. Whilst fine spray nozzles typically used at this timing will increase coverage by producing a large number of small droplets, they will be prone to drift, compromising weed control. Low drift nozzles are designed to alleviate drift, but they increase the risk of crop phytotoxicity by loading a higher concentration of herbicide through a coarser spray,” Mr. Sutherland explains.

“Engineering the water with an adjuvant that reduces drift and improves coverage is a cost effective method of boosting weed control by as much as 13% without the threat to crop safety. The second challenge, especially in dry light soils, is retaining the herbicide in the top 5cm of soil long enough to control flushes of weeds. This is where adjuvants such as Backrow can be particularly effective and reduce the risk of herbicides leaching into water and root zone of the crop.”

At the post-emergence timing, getting the herbicide to penetrate through the canopy to control small emerging weeds shaded by the crop is crucial. Adjuvant oils such as Toil will be routine in many situations to help reduce drift and improve coverage for this very purpose. Mr. Sutherland suggests that “where crop safety may be a concern from over complex tank-mixtures, growers may want to consider the adjuvant Kantor which is specifically designed to safen mixes and aid delivery of herbicide into target weeds.”

Such adjuvants also play a valuable role in optimising disease control for similar reasons explains Mr. Sutherland, with “independent trials showing significant increases in Cercospora control where Kantor has been added.”

For growers looking to maximise the income potential of the crop, biostimulant products make a lot of sense believes Mr. Sutherland.

“It is well known that there is a strong correlation between harnessing light energy and final yield. Feeding the crop biostimulants that will help boost leaf biomass increase green leaf area and sunlight absorption, and reduce stress will help to drive yield.

In our work with growers over the last two years, we have seen yield increases of up to 18% and even full recovery of a dying crop from applications of amino acid biostimulant Bridgeway, concludes Mr. Sutherland.”

Action points:

  • Reduce weed threats to yield by getting on top of weeds early
  • Optimise the effectiveness of pre-emergence herbicides by reducing drift, improving coverage, & increasing residual activity – a suitable adjuvant will help
  • Ensure post-emergence sprays reach small weeds that may be hiding under the crop – use a suitable adjuvant to reduce drift and aid coverage
  • Optimise yield by maximising biomass & green leaf area – an adjuvant will help placement and penetration of fungicide into the canopy
  • Biostimulants offer the potential to improve plant health and reach the genetic potential of the crop
  • Where using biostimulant Bridgeway, the use of oil with post-emergence herbicides should be avoided. However, Kantor is a safe alternative

Bridgeway in Sugar Beet

Bridgeway aids canopy and tap root growth in Sugar Beet

LHS Bridgeway, RHS Untreated 2.0 l/ha Bridgeway applied at 2TL and 6TL

Photo courtesy of Ryan Baker, Agronomist, Frontier Agriculture Ltd

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