Through Innovations to the Successful Production of Sugar Beet in Serbia
The company Sunoko, the largest sugar producer in Serbia, which operates as part of the MK Group, organized a seminar on sugar beet production at the Sheraton Hotel in Novi Sad. Lectures at the seminar were given by eminent experts in the field of sugar beet protection and mineral nutrition. In addition to current topics, a panel discussion was organized with the topic “Innovations in sugar beet production”, in which experts in the application of innovative technologies in agricultural production took part, who shared their experiences with the participants of the seminar. There were discussions about the advantages and savings through the application of the precision agriculture concept, especially variable fertilization, the application of drone footage, the technology of applying liquid nitrogen fertilizers, etc. In the previous period, some of the panelists for the first time applied a new approach in protection based on Sunok’s recommendations and achieved exceptional results.
„The State’s support to sugar beet producers of 35,000 dinars per hectare came at the right time for 2023 because it resulted in increased interest of agricultural producers in sowing one of the strategic crops, which ensures self-sufficiency in sugar production. We have witnessed that a lot has changed in the world, especially this year, that the supply and trade of all goods, including food, has become uncertain, which is why ensuring the production of basic foodstuffs is an imperative. “Investments in research and development of the Company Sunoko contributed to the fact that even in this year, with an extremely dry summer in which the yields of other crops such as soybeans and corn significantly failed, the yield of sugar was at the level of the five-year average,” said Slobodan Košutić, Director of the Company Sunoko, at the seminar.
„The State provides support through sugar mills for a maximum of 500ha per producer, where the areas under sugar beet must be reported in accordance with a special regulation governing the registration of farms, and they must not represent related parties. Producers receive support for a yield of at least 50 tons per hectare of payable sugar beet. Funds are limited, and in the event of exceeding the budget, the right of priority is exercised in the order of signing the contract with the sugar factory”, stated Košutić.
The right to support is realized by producers with an active RPG in the amount of 35,000 dinars per hectare of registered and sown sugar beet. The Director of the Research and Development Center, Saša Rajčić, pointed out that in 2022 the RDC continued to test the latest genetics in order to select varieties that will better respond to the specifics of our production conditions.
„The focus of the Research and Development Center’s work is improving protection against cercospora and solving the problem of sugar beet root rot. We are particularly proud of the successful establishment of a soil laboratory equipped with the latest generation ICP device. In cooperation with prof. Dr. Miroslav Nikolić, we established a method for soil analysis that is adapted to the types of soil on which sugar beet is grown in Serbia. We opted for the Mehlich 3 method, which saves resources, and on the other hand, provides significantly better quality results in terms of obtaining more accurate information about the content of easily accessible macro and micro elements in the soil compared to other, mostly used methods. From an economic and ecological point of view, well-conducted soil analyzes with the correct recommendation for fertilization are very important in order to reduce the intake of mineral fertilizers and increase the plant’s resistance to stressful conditions. Given the increasingly limited choice of active substances that are allowed to improve weed protection, in cooperation with Dr. Goran Malidža, we are working on testing new concepts of weed protection, where we emphasize the combination of mechanical and chemical protection systems. In addition to laboratory tests, field visits by colleagues from the Research and Development Center and the transfer of knowledge through the raw material sector to end producers are of crucial importance,” Rajačić said..
One of the lecturers, Dr. Nenad Trkulja, Director of the Institute for Plant Protection and Environment in Belgrade, discussed in his lecture the importance of applying means to protect sugar beet crops in accordance with the latest knowledge based on many years of testing and good agricultural practice guidelines. Dr. Trkulja referred to the occurrence of leaf and root diseases in previous years and the strategy for controlling these diseases that is implemented in the sugar beet fields. In order to optimize the application of funds, scientific results are used to define crop protection plans and programs. The application of means is based on the concept of integral protection of plants, which implies the application of all necessary agrotechnical measures in order to reduce the scope of application of chemical means, and emphasizes the importance of the use of alternative and biological approaches in suppressing pathogens. Dr. Trkulja concludes that by founding the Research and Development Center, Sunoko made a great contribution to the development of research in the field of sugar beet production and protection and thus supported producers who can receive all the necessary guidelines and advice regarding the sugar beet production process. In this way, producers achieve maximum yields, and given that the production process is controlled by a professional team, maximum performance is achieved in economic and environmental terms.
The Sunoko company is one of the most efficient sugar producers in Europe and the company that founded the Research and Development Center for Sugar Beet in 2019, which deals with applied research in the production technology of this important field crop. Research results are presented at educational meetings organized by the company, and the Seminar on sugar beet production is one of them.