Logo SCI for Sustainable Sugar
Agri-food systems enabled by interconnected digital technologies that are more transparent to consumers, farmers and other stakeholders along the agri-food value chain.
To increase efficiency in sugar production, yield and root quality should be considered simultaneously. The quality defines the concentration of sucrose in the root and the potential of its extraction in the production of white table sugar. The sugar content in sugar beet root is usually 13-20% and the quality (sugar extraction potential) is related to molasses-forming substances, primarily alpha-amino nitrogenous. In  it is shown that excessive fertilization can slightly increase root yield while having a significant negative effect on root quality by increasing primarily alpha-amino N. It means that the usage of excessive fertilizer and water not only threatens the soil fertility, water resources, and sustainability of production; but also significantly reduces the efficiency of production.
The main goal of the project is to increase the efficiency of sugar production by creating an incentive system to encourage agricultural production habits increasing both yield and the root quality of the sugar beet. Scoring will be achieved according to root quality and yield that are primarily estimated via satellite observations. Integrating satellite control to incentive system will convince farmers to follow guidelines with greater care. This incentive system will provide fertilization/irrigation guidelines to farmers to reach higher scores, meaning better rewards. To better understand correlation btw satellite observations and yield/root quality; the project includes a modelling and software development acts; will be built upon field-proven technologies of the partners. The secondary role of the satellite monitoring system is to help farmers as an early warning system by monitoring crop health, water stress, and nitrogenous status. For the dissemination of knowledge among farmers and to ease the adaptation; observations will be shared with farmers via freely distributed mobile app. Hopefully, the reward system will be a catalyst for farmers to adopt sustainable production habits with reduced usage of water and fertilizer.
The project aims to more than 20% irrigation reduction while reducing fertilization (Ammonium Sulfate 21-0-0) by 25%. Considering current usage of KSF, this corresponds to yearly savings of ~115 Million m3 of water with economic value ~320 Million TL and ~6250tons of fertilizer with economic value ~45 Million TL. Total 365 Million TL of savings will lay a foundation for incentive budget.
The technological quality defines the concentration of sucrose in the root and the potential of its extraction in the production of white table sugar. The sugar content in sugar beet root is usually 13-20% and technical quality (sugar extraction potential) is related to molasses-forming substances, primarily alpha-amino nitrogenous . Increased amounts of molasses-forming elements result in a reduced amount of sugar extraction. Currently, tracking of alpha-amino N is made as a side process by the selection of sample fields and laboratory inspections of roots retrieved from fields. This process is costly and requires an intensive amount of fieldwork. By its nature, measuring alpha-amino N after harvest gives no chance for recovery or interventions for reducing harmful N during the season. The first and the most significant challenge of the project is to build modelling that enables the estimation of yield and sugar beet quality simultaneously via scalable data sources in the days of production. This will help coping with harmful N at the field level, reduce field and lab work, and also makes incentives more transparent and audition easier. To the best of our knowledge, there is no such incentive system encouraging farmers to cope with alpha-amino N directly, neither in Europe nor in Turkey.
Main project activities
- Increasing Extracted Sugar (Sucrose): The correlation between fertilization/irrigation practices and yield/root quality will be examined using satellite/drone observations. Via the proposed incentive system, the best production practices will be rewarded.
- Cost-Effective Sustainable Production: Via satellite/drone-based early warning system abnormalities will be monitored and producers will be notified via mobile app to prevent yield loss. This app will also play a critical role in sharing guidelines on cost-effective fertilization and irrigation practices with farmers and observing the results.
- Production Forecasting: Satellite/drone observations will also be used for yield estimation and root quality estimation. Sugar factory experts will be able to use the software to achieve field-by-field examination, and forecast the total amount of expected sugar production.
- Dissemination of Technology Use among Farmers: A major constraint limiting technology adoption by farmers is ignorance of the existence of such technologies. Distribution of satellite monitoring tools among farmers freely and engaging with them via KSF field experts, hopefully, will break that barrier.
Expected social impact
Despite the importance of agriculture, producers' income is 40% lower than non-agricultural sectors. Low profitability and high risks force farmers to leave. Farmers themselves acknowledge that due to high risks they focus more on cost-effective production rather than following sustainable production practices, which most of the time pollutes the environment, especially soil and water resources. Higher adoption of digital agricultural technologies, offers a fast way out for more sustainable soil, crop, and water management. Adaptation to new technologies requires changes in farmers’ production habits and for most farmers, changing production habits is considered to be financially risky and requires financial support or guarantees for the stability of their income. Therefore, it seems the best way of encouraging farmers to follow sustainable production practices is to economically support their actions (reduce risks of losing income) with incentives while proving the increase in yield and environmental sustainability. The project will encourage farmers to build sustainable farming practices and improve awareness about the usage of digital tools for this purpose.
- Promoting sustainable farming practices via incentives
- Increasing awareness of farmers about digital tools and sustainable production practices
- Promoting sustainable farming practices by providing free digital crop monitoring tools to farmers
- Soil Fertility Maintenance
- Protection of Water Bodies (from excessive usage and nitrogenous pollution).
- Data-driven reward and incentive modeling
- Satellite Controlled incentive
- Irrigation, fertilization programming
- Sustainable agricultural production
Emre Tunali & Akif Durdu- Agrovisio OÜ, Agrovisio, Estonia
- TURKEY: Ege University Faculty of Agriculture
- ISRAEL: Rivulis Irrigation Ltd, Rivulis
- TURKEY: Kayseri Seker Fabrikasi A.S., KSF
Expected project start date and end date
The SCI for Sustainable Sugar projects stars on 17 April 2023 and runs until March 2025.