How much sugar is in the beet? KWS launches efficient system for sugar measurements

Einbeck, July 01, 2019

The question of the sugar content in beet is decisive for the success of sugarbeet growers and factories. KWS has been tackling this issue since its foundation more than 160 years ago. The company has now launched an innovative measurement system for sugar analysis, named the BEETROMETER™. The system can determine the sugar content in beets within 20 seconds and offers sugar factories and growers worldwide a highly efficient service.

KWS’s internal R&D department developed the core technology and has been using it successfully for 10 years in its own sugarbeet breeding. To determine the sugar content, beets are first chopped into small pieces of about the same size, a method developed by KWS itself. Next, the beets travel down a conveyor belt and pass under a near-infrared spectrometer (NIRS) sensor, which emits light of precisely known wavelengths onto the surface of the freshly chopped beets. The sugar content result from how much light was reflected from which wavelength ranges.

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"It only takes 20 seconds to measure a representative sample of about 30 kilograms of chopped sugarbeet in this way. The result is the adjusted sugar content, to the nearest decimal place," says Dr. Peter Hofmann, the KWS Executive Board member responsible, among other things, for the sugarbeet business, “This development shows the advantages of our independence and underscores our innovative strength," adds Hofmann. "KWS itself decides in which areas we conduct research in order to translate the good ideas of our teams into new products. With this new service, we are strengthening our position as a partner to sugarbeet growers and factories."

Previous measuring methods in the sugarbeet industry are far more demanding: Typically, factories send beet samples to a central laboratory for chemical analysis. The conventional process requires complex sample preparation, trained employees and generates chemical waste. KWS' new process, on the other hand, is flexible, can run 24/7 with very little personnel, does not require chemicals, and the results are available within seconds.

KWS is cooperating with the German company Polytec, who provides the NIR spectrometer and with Putsch, a leading company for sugarbeet processing equipment, who is manufacturing the BEETROMETER™. With over five million samples, KWS has analyzed many sugarbeet varieties for many different regions and precisely calibrated the measuring system.
The BEETROMETER™ is now being used for the first time in commercial applications by the sugar producer American Crystal Sugar Company in the USA. “The BEETROMETER™ is an efficient alternative to conventional analysis systems," explains Stefan Meldau, who is responsible for the commercialization at KWS. "Our compact technology can be installed as a stationary unit in sugar factories or used on mobile systems for flexible use in the field, for example.”

About KWS*

KWS is one of the world’s leading plant breeding companies. In the fiscal year 2017/18, more than 5,000 employees in 70 countries generated net sales of EUR 1,068 million and earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of EUR 133 million. A company with a tradition of family ownership, KWS has operated independently for more than 160 years. It focuses on plant breeding and the production and sale of seed for corn, sugarbeet, cereals, rapeseed and sunflowers. KWS uses leading-edge plant breeding methods to increase farmers’ yields and to improve resistance to diseases, pests and abiotic stress. To that end, the company invested approximately EUR 200 million in research and development in the fiscal year 2017/2018.

* All figures exclude the companies carried at equity AGRELIANT GENETICS LLC., AGRELIANT GENETICS INC. and KENFENG – KWS SEEDS CO., LTD.

Contact:

Sina Barnkothe
Sina Barnkothe
Expert Corporate Communications
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Stefan Meldau
Stefan Meldau
Project Manager Business Development
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