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Robert Arvier

Nuffield Australia 2017 Scholar

Robert Arvier, from Penguin (near Devonport) in Tasmania, receives a 2017 Nuffield Scholarship supported by Westpac Agribusiness. 

He will investigate the economic and agronomic feasibility of the re-establishment of a sugar beet industry in South Eastern Australia.

Robert splits his time between a mixed cropping and dairy agistment business in North Western Tasmania, and working for the Agricultural and Environment Business Unit of the Lesaffre Group (a French owned multinational Agribusiness) in Victoria as an Agronomist.  His farming business is run on a mixture of owned and leased land which he hopes to expand in the near future. 

Robert’s research will be particularly pertinent to the argument that sugar beet is an economically and environmentally superior alternative to sugar cane.  This potentially represents opportunities in the carbon farming space as Australia begins to transition into ‘Climate Smart’ farming practices.

He plans to explore the concept that the lower processing cost of sugar beet, in conjunction with its environmental benefits, could warrant its revitalisation.  Previously thriving sugar beet production declined in Eastern Victoria post World War II due to the efficiencies of sugar cane and the more profitable option of local dairy farming at that time.

“Many aspects have changed in the past 71 years, such as the cost of transport, production efficiencies, advances in cultivar performance, labelling legislation changes and cleaner production requirements for sugar cane in Far North Queensland,” Robert says.

“These factors alone justify the need to revisit the potential of this crop as a commercially viable addition to South Eastern cropping rotations.

“The opportunities are exciting, with the processing cost of sugar beet being substantially less than that of cane, coupled with its superior environmental impact.”

Robert hopes to gain a comprehensive understanding of the status of global sugar beet production and best practice techniques, to give insight into their applicability to Australian conditions and markets.

Robert will travel to Chile, Germany, France, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

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