KWS puts new production plant for sugarbeet seeds into operation

Einbeck, October 14, 2020

The seed specialist KWS is investing heavily in the expansion and modernization of sugarbeet seed production. A new, cutting-edge system for treatment and packaging has been fully commissioned now at its Einbeck site. This plant is an integral part of the company’s almost 50-million-euro investment project and will increase production capacity for sugarbeet seeds by over 30 percent.

In a first step, storage capacity was increased significantly last year, and a new logistics and storage center was built. Next in line was the construction of a production plant in which the new system for treatment and packaging was installed and has now been fully commissioned. This new plant offers significant improvements in terms of flexibility, efficiency and quality and includes many of KWS’s own innovations. For example, the seeds are transported from one process step to the next completely automatically in large, funnel-shaped containers called silo boxes, and stored pre-process in a high-bay storage system. Cameras ensure that the boxes are emptied completely to maintain varietal purity.

Sustainability and resource-efficient processes also played an important role in the design: Substances (seed treatment products) that are not used up completely in one project are piped back to the tanks using an innovative tube system and used for the next suitable job, thus avoiding waste. The plant is cleaned mainly with process water and now has a heat recovery system.

silo boxes stored in a high rack system

The silo boxes are stored in a high rack system which replaces conventional cup or silo systems.

Capacity of the production plant has increased by over 30 percent. In parallel set-up times have been reduced and faster job changes are possible. “With our investment decision, we are meeting several changes in requirements: The segmentation of the sugarbeet market is continuing, and our customers' ordering behavior is influenced by many factors. For instance, more varieties are ordered in smaller batches. In addition, our customers would like to order later and receive their orders as soon as possible,” explains Dr. Peter Hofmann, Member of the Executive Board responsible for the Sugar Beet Business Unit. “KWS has also succeeded in expanding its market share for sugarbeet seeds. At the same time, our diversity of varieties is growing. Thus, the new production plant is also used to produce seeds for the CONVISO® SMART technology, which offers farmers new options for efficient weed control.”

The final element in the investment package is an additional seed pelleting system scheduled for commissioning next year. “We are making a significant investment in sugarbeets and, at the same time, in our Einbeck site,” Hofmann says.

KWS is world market leader for sugarbeet seeds. Every year, over 60 million euros are invested in research and development so that robust and high-yield varieties can be developed, and the competitiveness of sugarbeet cultivation can be increased further. Sugarbeets have numerous agricultural advantages, such as an active contribution to soil and water protection as well as a good nutritional balance and they play an important role in crop rotation.

In the final production step, the seed is packaged

In the final production step, the seed is packaged and delivered to farmers and sugar factories after approval by quality control.

Background: Processing sugarbeet seed
After harvesting in KWS’ multiplication areas, the sugarbeet seed is subjected to an initial quality check and preliminary cleaning. Then it is transported to the KWS site in Einbeck for further processing. There the processing takes place in several stages: In the first stage the seed is selected according to various quality parameters and seeds with no or only underdeveloped germ are sorted out. The irregularly shaped, flat seed is then pelleted with a coating so that the seed can be sown in precision seed drills. At the same time, the pelleting process allows the seed treatment products (dressing) to be gently applied as a next step. This serves to protect the seed against e.g. fungal diseases and pests and thus to improve the field emergence of the plant. In the last production step, the product is packaged and, after approval by the quality control department, is delivered to farmers and sugar factories.

About KWS*
KWS is one of the world’s leading plant breeding companies. In the fiscal year 2018/19, more than 5,500 employees in 70 countries generated net sales of EUR 1.1 billion and earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of EUR 150 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, sunflowers and vegetables. 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 last fiscal year in research and development.

*All indications excluding the results from the companies accounted for using the equity method AGRELIANT GENETICS LLC, AGRELIANT GENETICS INC. and KENFENG – KWS SEEDS CO., LTD.

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