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Within-field variations in sugar beet yield and quality and their correlation with environmental variables in the East of England

Mahmood, Salar A., Murdoch, Alistair J.
European journal of agronomy 2017 v.89 pp. 75-87
agronomy, amino acids, canopy, correlation, crop yield, crops, environmental factors, magnesium, phosphates, potassium, roots, soil organic matter, soil types, soil water, sugar beet, sugars, temperature, weeds, England
Spatial variability of sugar beet yield and quality within fields and their correlation with environmental variables was investigated in order to explore the potential for more precise agronomy. In three uniformly-managed, commercial sugar beet fields in the east of England spatial variation in the commercial value of the sugar yield ranged from £232 to £3320 per hectare. This variation was not random; there were high and low yielding patches in each field. Sugar beet root yield was positively correlated with the spatial distribution of crop plant population, soil organic matter and soil moisture, but negatively with weed density and canopy temperature. Correlations of sugar beet yield with soil type, elevation and soil available phosphate, potassium and magnesium were, however, inconsistent between the three fields and over two seasons. With respect to sugar beet quality, spatial variation in the amino acid and potassium concentrations in the sugar beet roots was associated with soil type and elevation, whereas sugar percentage varied randomly in two of the fields. Interventions and research that could help to optimize yield on a spatially-variable basis are discussed.