Environmental assessment of sugar beet and cane production
AERU have undertaken several projects that have sought to assess the environmental impact of growing different crops. This has included two projects examining the environmental impacts of growing sugar beet in the UK and the sugar cane and beet in the USA.
2017-2018: Environmental impact assessment of US sugar beet and sugar cane production
An environmental impact assessment of sugar beet and sugar cane grown in the United States was undertaken on behalf of Western Sugar with the following objectives: (1) To apply life-cycle assessment (LCA) to evaluate the environmental impact of crop inputs (pesticides, supplementary fertiliser, fuel to power machinery) and outputs (emissions to air, soil and water); (2) Generate environmental impact profiles per unit area and per unit of yield (refined sugar); (3) Compare the environmental impact of sugar beet and sugar cane to the farm gate, and compare within crop production methods where possible; and (4) Identify strengths and weaknesses with respect to the environmental impact of each crop and production system assessed.
2002-2003: Environment and energy impact assessment for 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).
- Warner, D., Tzilivakis, J., Green, A. and Lewis, K. (2017) Environmental
impact assessment of sugar beet and sugar cane grown in the United States.
Confidential report to Western Sugar Ltd
- Tzilivakis, J., Jaggard, K., Lewis, K.A., May, M. & Warner, D.J. (2005). An
assessment of the energy inputs and greenhouse gas emissions in sugar beet (Beta
vulgaris) production in the UK. Agricultural Systems 85,
- Tzilivakis, J., Jaggard, K., Lewis, K.A., May, M. & Warner, D.J. (2005).
Environmental impact and economic assessment for UK sugar beet production
systems. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 107, 341-358.
- Jaggard, K., Tzilivakis, J., Warner, D.J. & Lewis, K.A. (2004) Beet and the
environment. British Sugar Beet Review 72(2), 34-37.
- Tzilivakis, J., Jaggard, K., Lewis, K.A., May, M. & Warner, D.J. (2002).
Environmental assessment of sugar beet production. Proceedings of the 65th
IIRB (International Institute for Beet Research) Congress, Brussels, February
Dr. Doug Warner