At Germains Seed Technology our work is never done. We run a continuous research and development programme to ensure farmers have the latest technology at their disposal. So, despite Xbeet enrich 200’s outstanding performance in the field during the last two years, we have been looking to improve it further.
Our lead scientist, Jordan Long, and his team have been trialling a wide range of new technologies – from microbes to biostimulants – to unearth combinations that will make sugar beet seed germinate faster and more uniformly, producing seedlings that will grow away stronger and quicker.
Continuous improvements are possible by combining new technology and the latest understanding of the crop’s biology and physiology, with our ever deepening agronomic knowledge and understanding of industry needs.
New ingredients in the pipeline
Our research and development team are putting two types of microbes, rhizobacteria and endophytes, through their paces. Rhizobacteria are bacteria that live in the soil directly around a plant’s roots and are influenced by plant exudates. Endophytes are microbes that can live inside roots, between their cells, nitrogen-fixing bacteria being a good example.
We’ve also started exploring the benefits of giving germinating plants earlier access to nutrients. By placing nutrient packages within the seed coating, itself, we’re providing access to vital nutrients during those crucial first 3-4 weeks which helps seedling development. So far trial results are very positive. The nutrient packages developed are increasing the speed of germination while helping them to establish earlier than those treated with our existing product.
Complementing these potential new nutrient packages is a second biostimulant. Nutrients are actively more bioavailable to plants and are, therefore, the perfect partner for our new nutrient packages.
With both these new formulations already in on-farm trials, the next generation of Xbeet enrich could be coming very soon.
Xbeet enrich on the farm
One of the growers involved in putting our new products through their paces is Richard Cobbald farm manager at the Bartlow Estate in Cambridgeshire, who manages over 2,500ha of arable land, via joint ventures and contract farming agreements.
The size and complexity of the enterprise is one of the reasons why Richard ensures his sugar beet seed is treated with Xbeet enrich 200. Reliability is key, which is why Richard values Xbeet’s enhancements in emergence, development and ongoing plant health.
Richard values speedy seed emergence, aiming for over 100,000 plants per hectare and this was achieved in both 2021 and 2022 thanks to Xbeet enrich 200.
Like many growers, most of Richard’s 270ha of sugar beet is ploughed and levelled off in the autumn, before being beet harrowed, ahead of drilling in spring.
Richard is pushing boundaries with his choice of drilling date. Watching soil temperatures closely, he is finding that optimum conditions are tending to fall between 20th and 24th March, as opposed to the more traditional 10th March, finding that later sown crops are higher yielding.
As for many, the exceptionally dry spring and summer of 2022 caused havoc with sugar beet yields both on the Bartlow Estate and Richard’s contract farms. Despite a five year average of 80t/ha, in 2022 Richard averaged 59t/ha. He describes the situation as ‘disappointing’, particularly as Xbeet enrich 200 had done its job and saw him achieve his target of 100,000 plants/ha at establishment.
The year before was very different. Again, Xbeet enrich 200 performed well, giving strong emergence and establishment. This time, it was followed by a good season. In 2021, Richard averaged well above 80t/ha with the highest yielding field coming in at just over 90t/ha and the lowest, at 75t/ha.