One of the stated goals of this doctoral project is to investigate and/ or develop tools and methods where possible. This includes models of temperature, means of measuring airflow, and, as the title suggests, economic means of measuring the textural/ mechanical properties of sugar beet roots.

As part of the COBRI collaboration, we tested a method for applying a simple but well established penetrometer (Effegi type FT011) in another trial that already had comprehensive laboratory testing of mechanical properties during 2019.

The testing of the method could be summarised as:

  • handheld penetrometers in sugar beet roots work
  • can be applied cheaply and pre-harvest
  • operator training is necessary
  • in comparison to laboratory penetrometers: fewer metrics, more variation, less cost.
  • more thoughts about the application of the handheld penetrometer can be found at this blog post. It brings in a lot of thoughts from working with the penetrometer beyond the 2019 trial.

The full report from this project was published in Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B — Soil & Plant Science, 72:1.

Method for in-field texture analysis of sugar beet roots using a handheld penetrometer


Methodology for analysing textural properties of sugar beet roots in the laboratory has previously been established. It has been shown to be reliable and of value in exploring relationships between textural properties, damage rates, and storability of varieties. In this paper, a methodology for the assessment of textural properties in-field, prior to harvest, using an inexpensive handheld penetrometer is examined. Three sugar beet varieties were grown in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden during 2019. Textural properties were assessed in-field with the handheld penetrometer 2, 1 and 0 months prior to harvest, and with the laboratory penetrometer directly after harvest. Comparison of the results showed generally strong correlations. A power analysis suggests a difference in mean Handheld Pressure of 0.10 MPa could be found significant within a large trial with a block design. The reliability of the handheld penetrometer was further assessed in the Swedish national variety trials over three years (2019-2021). Correlation coefficients of 0.86 and 0.94 were found between mean Handheld Pressure for 2019 and 2020, and 2020 and 2021 respectively. The handheld penetrometer can be applied as an economic means of quantifying differences in textural properties of sugar beet varieties. Clear operating procedure and training must exist.

Full citation:

William English, Joakim Ekelöf, Françoise Vancutsem, Martijn Leijdekkers, Gunnar Kleuker & Christa M. Hoffmann (2022) Method for in-field texture analysis of sugar beet roots using a handheld penetrometer, Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B — Soil & Plant Science, 72:1, 623-634, DOI: 10.1080/09064710.2022.2042589