When looking at the world map it can be seen that there is a huge regional bias within the production figures. For example, the majority of Russian production is in the east of Siberia, and Egyptian beet in the Sinai region. Areas as diverse as Chile and Iran are beet producers.
One of the major concerns about world beet growth would be the actual growing and harvesting management; after all beet pulp is the by-product and the main thrust is sugar production. Looking at world maps it is obvious that beet crops are grown on a wide range of soils, regions and conditions. For example, the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, which is currently investing heavily in beet production with new factories being built, has inherent problems of high probability of arsenic contamination in the ground water. Other areas of note are Chile, Argentina and the United States. Between them they account for over 40% of beet production. Although water contamination does not directly relate to feed contamination beet, being a root crop, may be susceptible to high environmental levels of arsenic. Additionally, areas of the U.S. have been subjected to mining – which leads to arsenic mineralisation – as does Poland. The UK also has high levels, but these are concentrated in the south west, an area where beet production does not occur.
The FDFA, although publishing limits in the drinking water, do not have such in feed and it does beg the question whether other countries impose a limit of this and other heavy metals in feedstuffs. The EU does have limits, 4mg/kg for beet products as well as other heavy metals. UK beet pulp falls well below these limits.
Across the world beets are planted in spring (April in the northern hemisphere) and harvested from early autumn (September) onwards. Beets are grown primarily in temperate zones for two main reasons; beets are frost resistant and require a good supply of water to develop. About 50 cm of rain over the growing season is required; too little water reduces yield but too much reduces the sugar content. Although this latter does not impact on the pulp faction, poor harvests will affect supply. Obviously, areas with poor rainfall will need much irrigation and this will impact on the environmental and sustainability parameters with the resultant pulp having a lesser “green” credentials. Places, such as Iran, which suffers from water overuse and is using industrial waste water to irrigate crops (National Geographic March, 2018), may suffer to produce a sustainable crop. On a world basis Eastern North America, Europe and China have ideal rainfall levels. In the UK, over 95% of beet irrigation comes from rainfall, making it as close to an ideal environment as is possible. Other major suppliers – Russia, U.S., Egypt – would necessitate major ground water irrigation schemes, whilst Spain, Portugal and Greece need extensive irrigation programmes..
During the growing period, fertiliser use is an issue. Whilst normal and justifiable use is needed to ensure consistency of crops and their yield, there is concern about overuse of fertilisers. In Europe, for example, there has been an historical overuse of nitrogen fertilisers, as demonstrated by the picture below: