Innovation Day Sugar Beet at Strube - Robots, app and analysis technology

For the first time the plant breeding company Strube held the Sugar Beet Innovation Day in Söllingen. Under the motto “THE BEET GOES ON”, the breeder presented the company's sustainable and innovative projects. Guests from the sugar industry, institutes, associations, and the trade press were invited.

Agriculture as an entire industry is under pressure, and sugar beet, once the queen of crops, is now suffering particularly from low sugar prices and increasingly difficult growing conditions. New answers are needed to many questions - the seed breeding company is facing them. With the event motto “THE BEET GOES ON”, Strube is signalling that sugar beet cultivation will continue.

The projects were presented at five info-stations. The guests paid particular attention to the two field robots, the PhenoFieldBot and the new weeding robot in sugar beets, the BlueBob. The PhenoFieldBot is a robot that is used in seed quality research to describe the combination of genetics and seed quality exactly and precisely in the field - an autonomous plant measurement with precision. Strubes BlueBob is a prototype for an electrically operated, autonomously navigating weeding robots. The aim is to use it for full-area, mechanical weed control in sugar beets - in the period between field emergence and canopy closure. The robot determines the position of the plants and classifies them into weeds and beets. He chops between the rows with static hoeing tools and even in the row with powered hoeing tools. The chopping principle is based on the actual differentiation between weeds and beets in real time and that at a very early stage. The project is being implemented in cooperation with the Fraunhofer development center for X-ray technology EZRT and the French start-up company NAÏO-Technologies.

Strube will remain a plant breeder, even if the event focused on robotics. This was also evident in the presentation of the sugar beet range. After the successful approval of three varieties in Germany this year, the company also expects varieties that e.g. are protected against strong rhizomania by their own source of resistance RzX.

“We use the know-how and skills that we have developed as breeders in order to protect the sugar beet as best as possible and to make it possible to cultivate it even when chemical crop protection may no longer be possible at some point. In this context we see an essential contribution in autonomous, mechanical weed control, where we start with our prototype for a weeding robot - the BlueBob. ", emphasized managing director Martin Reisige.

At the Innovation Day Sugar Beet, Strube also showed the automated, patented test method for 4D phenotyping, the PhenoTest. This documents the growing force and emergence speed of young seedlings under laboratory conditions. Digital technology could also be seen in the latest project, the new CercoSpot smartphone app. In the future, the app should be able to provide forecasts on cercospora infestation. The use of NIRS analysis on the BlueMobil mobile analysis laboratory was presented at another info-station. The harvesters, which have been converted into beet laboratories, provide reliable services, and deliver results fast from thousands of plots across Europe.

The entire event took place in compliance with an elaborated hygiene concept and with a very limited number of people. The innovations showed that the developments in the sugar beet sector go on and on.

The new BlueBlog is also available on the website for further information on the topic of sustainability at Strube. The topics can be found here:

Dr. Wolff presenting the PhenoTest station - an automated, patented test procedure for 4D phenotyping.
For the Innovation Day, five stations were set up on various topics, which were visited one after the other by participants divided into groups.
The BlueBob a prototype for an electrically operated, autonomously navigating field robot for mechanical weed control in sugar beets.
Introduction of the field robot - the PhenoFieldBot - autonomous plant measurement in precision.
Source: Strube D&S GmbH

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