Environmental impact and economic assessment for UK sugar beet production systems
This project evaluated the environmental impact and economic viability of a range of sugar beet production systems in the UK. The study used 13 sugar beet production scenarios representative of those used throughout the UK. The assessment included an evaluation of inputs (nutrients, pesticides and energy) and their impact on the environment. A net margin for each scenario was also calculated to provide an economic assessment and allow a ‘sustainability’ profile for each of the 13 scenarios to be constructed enabling all scenarios to be compared in terms of their environmental and economic performance. The most profitable production scenario also had the best overall environmental performance (lowest greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, nitrogen loss to leaching) and represented 18% of the area devoted to sugar beet production in the UK. Three other scenarios that represented 57% of the total UK area also had smaller environmental impacts. A significant proportion of the UK sugar beet crop is being grown in an economically efficient way whilst minimising environmental damage. The work was undertaken by AERU in collaboration with Rothamsted Research and the project was funded by the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO).