Newly drilled sugar beet could have its yield potential increased significantly by applying a new growth stimulant that supplies a crop-specific formulation of beneficial soil bacteria, according to leading plant research company PlantWorks Ltd and agronomy specialists ProCam.
Applied through standard crop spraying equipment, the Smart Rotations 3 (SR3) Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR) product was shown in field trials in Cambridgeshire in 2017 to produce a 33% increase in sugar beet weight, with no reduction in extractable sugar content.
The SR3 PGPR product for sugar beet is part of a range including specific formulations for other crops. It is the result of a five-year active biology research programme carried out by Kent-based PlantWorks Ltd with support from ProCam.
“Our research programme has identified the importance of selecting specific bacteria for different crop types and has shown that indistinct use of soil bacteria can be detrimental to crop performance,” explains Jamie Stotzka, head of the farming team at PlantWorks.
“In the case of SR3 PGPR for sugar beet, the formulation delivers on average 100 million beneficial bacteria for every plant. It performs by enhancing the soil microbial community, significantly increasing nutrient availability, improving plant health and ultimately yields.
“In the field-scale trial in Cambridgeshire last year, the results clearly demonstrated the value of a crop-specific formulation, with the very significant increase in the weight of beet occurring without any loss of quality. The farm is treating most of the sugar beet crop this year.”
SR3 is produced in the UK in sterile laboratory conditions by PlantWorks’ team of specialist mycologists and bacteriologists. It is a two-part product comprising a sachet of PGPR suspended in liquid along with a one litre bottle of bio-stimulant designed to feed the bacteria. Applied through standard crop spraying equipment at a rate that delivers 1015 bacteria per hectare, SR3 costs £20/ha and is available in 5ha units.
The SR3 range is now available through ProCam. For sugar beet, it can be applied up to one month after sowing, with an additional application six weeks after the first being recommended for optimal results. Other products in the SR range include formulations for carrots and potatoes; and onions and leeks. Products for wheat, oats and oilseed rape are scheduled for launch in 2019.