Integrated disease management in sugar beet

Nothingham University

United Kingdom

June 18, 2021


Integrated disease management in sugar beet



Closing Date

Friday, 18th June 2021


Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

Research Description

Sugar beet is an important crop grown across Europe and North America, providing a valuable spring sown break crop in rotations that are often dominated by winter cereals. Effective disease control is essential to ensure that the crop is profitable. The most important fungal foliar diseases affecting sugar beet in the UK have historically been rust (Uromyces betae) and powdery mildew (Erysiphe betae), both of which have been well controlled by a combination of azoles and strobilurin fungicides. However, in recent years other diseases, such as cercospora leaf spot (Cercospora beticola) have become more prevalent. If disease pressures increase, as may be expected to occur with increased temperatures under climate change, the optimum timing of fungicide application will be critical to maximise disease control. In addition to the likely increase in disease pressure, fungicides that have previously provided good disease control in sugar beet are being lost due to their endocrine disruption properties or the development of resistance by pathogens such as cercospora leaf spot to the existing active ingredients. This is starting to lead to an alternative range of active ingredients (e.g. SDHIs) becoming available for sugar beet growers. This project will evaluate new active ingredients approved for use in sugar beet for their efficacy in terms of disease control. A second component of the project will evaluate whether spectral indices (e.g. NDVI, NDRE), measured from hand-held devices, drones or even satellites, can be used to assess severity of fungal diseases of sugar beet, thereby providing a rapid tool for future research work. In addition, we will test whether pre-symptomatic disease infection can be detected by spectral changes. This research will complement an existing PhD project that is evaluating the physiological effect of fungicides on sugar beet and, by exploiting their synergy, we will devise fungicide strategies, tailored according to varietal tolerance/resistance and disease pressure, that optimise disease protection while also capitalising on any physiological benefits, such as green leaf retention. This is an exciting opportunity to kickstart your research career by joining an established research group which works closely with industry partners. You will have the opportunity to network with researchers, growers and the wider sugar beet industry, both in the UK and internationally (

Award Start Date: 01/10/2021

Duration of Award: 48 months

Terms and Conditions

The successful student will be based at the University of Nottingham's Sutton Bonington Campus. This four year studentship, starting in October 2021, is funded by the BASF, the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) and the Felix Cobbold Trust. This research studentship is only available to UK citizens and includes payment of tuition fees and a tax-free stipend based on BBSRC rates (currently £15,609 p.a.)

Applicant Qualification Requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, a BSc (Hons) degree in agriculture, crop science, or related subject, at 2.1 or above (or equivalent). Candidates must have an aptitude for research, excellent communication skills, and a passion for translating research results into practical messages for growers.

How to Apply

Applicants should send a CV, including the names of two referees, and covering letter to

  • Information for candidates ( pdf doc )