COBRI, Mechanical properties, & #IIRB2020

COBRI, Mechanical properties, & #IIRB2020

COBRI is the COordination Beet Research International. How International? There are four institutes, representing five sugar beet growing nations: IRS from the Netherlands, IRBAB from Belgium, IfZ from Germany, and, of course, NBR from Sweden and Denmark. These institutes work together through the collaboration on projects that have agro-ecological/ management/ policy/ etc relevance in the partner countries.

My involvement with COBRI is through the Storage Group and their ongoing Mechanical properties (Texture) project. I’m the trial responsible for Sweden. Or, at least, was for 2019 – there won’t be a field trial in 2020. 2020 will be a year of writing and idea development. The project was basically about the application of penetrometers to sugar beets – a post on this methodology is coming. There’s been good work and results from the group.

The most recent of these results were flawlessly presented at the 2020 edition of the IIRB Congress in Belgium by IfZ PhD student Gunnar Kleuker. The actual presentation is behind a paywall, and the final publication isn’t due until Spring 2021, but in summary:

  • different varieties have different resistance to penetration (pressure required to pierce the periderm),
  • different varieties have different tissue firmness (average pressure in the 1-5mm under the periderm),
  • different varieties have different resistance to compression (pressure required to break a 10mm diameter core),
  • these differences between the varieties included in the study are of a similar order in the different tests, but are definitely not the same,
  • these differences are relatively stable across growing environments,
  • these differences roughly correspond to the average cell wall content of the varieties.

Moving the lab to the field

The Handheld penetrometer project I’m leading belongs to this group. The early results from this part of the project were also presented at the IIRB Congress in February 2020. I’ll refer you to this poster (below), the planned publication (due early 2021), and probably a future blog post for more on this.

The poster from IIRB is also on ResearchGate.

Before the 2018-19 Mechanical properties project (and thus before my time with the group), there was another collaborative project by the Storage group, which focused on how the marc content (read: cell wall content) varied between varieties and growing environments. It also attempted to link marc content to storability. The main conclusion was that relative marc content was stable across environments. There was also a relatively strong link between marc content and storability, but there were also some strong exceptions.

The future of the group is yet to be decided. If I was to have my way, it would continue. My feeling is that there’s good momentum and good will within the group, and our interests align. Watch this space

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