Environmental assessment of sugar beet production
Environmental impact assessments are often used to aid decision-making on complex planning issues and the use of such techniques within agriculture is about to come of age. Sophisticated risk assessment methods are now available for planning pesticide strategies and mathematical models have been developed which simulate the nitrogen dynamics within arable land to generate field specific fertiliser recommendations. In addition, energy budgeting techniques have been published in the scientific press. However, to date few have attempted to draw together these techniques to quantify the environmental impact of a specific crop. The British Beet Research Organisation has a key research target to improve the environmental impact of the sugar beet crop and the sugar industry. Consequently, they have funded a research project to use state-of-the-art tools to compare the potential environmental impact of a range of conventional beet production systems in the UK and to present the findings alongside an economic assessment. This paper will provide an insight to the techniques being used and will present the interim project findings.