Sustainable beet production

In the Netherlands, sugar is produced from sugar beet. This plant has a high natural glucose (dextrose) and fructose (fruit sugar) content. Together, they form sucrose, or ‘sugar’ as it is more commonly known.

Sugar beet grow well in the Netherlands. The foliage protrudes above the soil to capture the sunlight necessary to produce sugar. The oxygen that is released make the beet fields the primary source of oxygen in arable farming. The sugar extracted from the beet is a 100% natural sweetener with no additives.

Suiker Unie recognises the importance of nature conservation. It promotes biodiversity, preserves landscapes and manages land and groundwater effectively. Farming, of course, cannot be considered separately from nature. All our farming programmes and biodiversity projects are geared to improving the sustainability of beet farming.

 

Knowledge and research

To optimise beet production, Suiker Unie is working with the Institute for Rational Sugar Production  (IRS), the knowledge and research centre for sugar beet in the Netherlands. In collaboration with the IRS, Suiker Unie carries out research projects and receives information and professional services to improve the beet yield. The IRS helps growers farm high quality and healthy sugar beet with a view to a profitable and sustainable crop.

We aim to increase the yield per hectare and reduce the tare soil attaching to the sugar beet. To promote circularity, the tare that we wash off the beet is used to raise ground levels and build earth walls.

 

Optimising beet cultivation

Suiker Unie helps its growers optimise and analyse their crops. Data on the beet are entered into the BAS and Unitip crop analysis systems. The growers can then be advised on how they can further optimise their beet crops.

BAS
BAS stands for Beet Advisory System. It compiles data from a variety of information sources and analyses them to generate tailored advice for the growers.

Unitip
Unitip, a component of BAS, is Suiker Unie’s crop registration system. It makes a significant contribution to the beet crop and helps improve the yield per hectare. Unitip also encourages sustainable farming by taking account of the environment and natural surroundings. Unitip is a unique registration system developed by Suiker Unie that is a step ahead of all other European sugar manufacturers’ efforts to promote sustainable farming. All Suiker Unie’s beet growers have been using the Unitip programme since 2018.

The Unitip programme satisfies the standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI). The SAI Platform was set up by food companies to support the development and implementation of sustainable farming initiatives. By participating in the Unitip programme, our beet growers meet the highest SAI standard (Gold Level).

 

Biodiversity

By working closely with its growers and partners, Suiker Unie is making beet farming sustainable. As a member of the Skylark Foundation, it “promotes the sustainable cultivation of arable products such as barley, sugar beet, onions and potatoes through the systematic application of best practices”.

In 2018, Suiker Unie and other partners signed the West Brabant bee covenant and the national bee strategy to improve the habitat for bees and other pollinators.

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