Article •  13/06/2024

Biological boost for beet with BlueN™

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Sam Myhill of MB Farming Ltd has turned to a market-leading biostimulant to help his sugar beet mitigate the risks presented by this year’s challenging conditions.

MB Farming Ltd contract farms blocks of land across East Anglia for a range of landlords, with varying soil types and rotations. One farm in the business encompasses 55ha of sugar beet as part of a six-year rotation including oilseed rape, wheat and winter and spring barley. Corteva Agriscience’s BlueN has been applied to some whole fields, and also to several 24m strips across one of their landlord’s farms.

BlueN is a nutrient efficiency biostimulant containing a naturally occurring bacteria, Methylobacterium symbioticum, that fixes nitrogen from the air and converts it into ammonium inside the plant.

“Quite a lot of our sugar beet this year is on some really heavy land,” says Sam. “And it traditionally struggles to get enough nitrogen out of the soil throughout the season. That’s probably partially due to the soil type, as we have a lot of clay content.”

After months of wet weather, Sam was keen to try something new to help the sugar beet get away this year.

“They were planted into quite muddy and cold seed beds, so we wanted to give them the best boost we can to get them growing,” he explains.

Sam usually applies the total crops liquid nitrogen requirements to the seedbeds of the sugar beet.

“If you use granular nitrogen, you’d probably apply some when the crop was out too,” he explains. “But as we’re using liquid, the risk applying it when the plant is so delicate is that you may scorch the leaf. So, we put it all in the seedbed, and before the land is ploughed we usually apply pig muck, which provides some background nutrition.”

BlueN is the farm’s first foray into biological products, so Sam is keen see if it makes a difference.

The product provides a sustainable, additional source of nitrogen that supplements the nitrogen uptake from the soil and ensures the plant has access to nitrogen all season long. The nitrogen from BlueN is not at risk of leaching, demineralisation or volatilisation.

“The crop is worth close to an all-time high this year and we have a bigger proportion of beet on heavy land than we normally do,” says Sam. “We had some tricky seedbeds this spring, with mud and cold conditions, so we’re keen to do everything we can for the crops to get the best possible growing season and maximise yield.

“BlueN will feed the sugar beet for the next 10-12 weeks and give it that extra boost from the foliar feed. The seedbed fertilisers got it off to a great start but we’re hopeful the BlueN will continue to feed it as it progresses.”

BlueN has been applied at a rate of 0.333kg per ha to 24m trial strips in a range of different fields and soil types from heavy Beccles series clay to sandy loam.

“We will monitor these strips to see what yield improvements we achieve and, hopefully going forwards, if the beet looks healthier throughout, we’ll be able to cut back on our nitrogen applications earlier on,” Sam says.

“We will consider it a success if the crop suddenly looks a lot healthier. If it keeps it fed and greener, we will definitely look towards reducing how much nitrogen we put on artificially.

“Obviously it comes down to yield and what return we see on our investment.”

MB Farming Ltd contract farm this land for a family business based in East Anglia near Bungay and Halesworth.

“Our landlords are keen for us to try new products and move away from using artificial fertiliser all the time, whilst remaining profitable and sustainable,” explains Sam.

“As a business we’re willing to adopt new ideas rather than being stuck in the old ways. We’re seeing new challenges in farming and the price of nitrogen is up and down all the time, so we’re keen to explore how biostimulants can help us.”

Useful information

Media contact

Ben Pike
Tel: 01327 438617 / 07832168560

Watch our short video on BlueN use in sugar beet here.



Sam Myhill of MB Farming Ltd