Energy Beet Performance Confirmed In Trial
KWS UK energy crop specialist, Simon Witheford, suggests that recent trials confirm energy beet is a good option for the UK. It provides the highest dry matter (DM) and methane yield of any crop and works well in the AD plant with maize or wholecrop cereals.
In independent energy beet trials on Lincs brash in 2012, the best variety produced a 3t/ha higher DM yield compared to Magnum from roots that weighed in at 87t/ha. That’s 20% more dry matter per ha with the potential to yield 500 m 3 more methane/ha, enough to generate the equivalent of £500 more electricity per cropped ha compared to lower dry matter types.
“Based on these DM yields the significant increase in methane provided is a major boost towards maximising energy output per cropped area, and helps make energy beet a no brainer in the UK situation” he says.
Simon comments that these trials are not a one off. In 2011 KWS’ specialist high dry matter energy beet varieties Gerty KWS and Lissy KWS also produced exceptional dry matter yields of 19-21t/ha from DM percentages of 27-28%.
In 2012 the results were mirrored, proving their consistency at what was a more difficult site and season compared to the very dry 2011 summer/autumn.
Front runner for yield in 2012 was Debby KWS at 19.9t/ha DM and it looks to be a step ahead of currently grown varieties, demonstrating some of the advances being made by the company’s breeding team.
Simon points out that there are a growing numbers of UK biogas producers now looking at using beet at up to 30% inclusions rates in their biodigesters. While maize is often the lead crop in any feedstock mix, it has a relatively slow retention time in the plant.
“Energy beet offers the highest possible yield/ha and the fastest possible retention time of crops suited to the UK environment, so is an ideal partner crop to maize in the digester,” he says.
“In another step forward for 2013 we are also introducing the first energy beet with tolerance to beet cyst nematode, Becky KWS, which will be of benefit to those cropping beet for biogas in areas where sugar beet has been widely grown and the pest is found. At 18.6t/ha DM in the trial it is no slouch.”
“Our experience is that beet is truly complementary to maize or wholecrop cereals within the AD plant and it is proving a good partner for growers in many areas of the UK,” he says.
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