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Beet sugar was Germany's chief net export in the 1890's, outstripping even steel. The beet industry, established in Germany, and independently, France in the early years of the century, grew rapidl...y, partly through economic circumstances which made cane sugar expensive and gave producers substantial incentives, but partly because technological innovations made this possible. One of the chief advances made was in planting breeding. Breeders, aided by the polariscope which allowed them to measure sugar content to progeny accurately, so that sugar content of beet doubled from 9% to 18% over the course of the century. Simultaneously, other advances came in the processing industry. A better method of sugar extraction, by diffusion, was devised. But this needed more water and cheaper, more efficient separation and evaporation procedures were devised to cope - multiple effect evaporation and centrifugation. Sugra became a staple food, based on efficient processing technology and cheap agricultural labour. The programme ends by looking briefly at how new advances in beet breeding have reduced the traditionally high labour demand of the agricultural side of the industry, and has resulted in the capital intensive beet industry we have today.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A281, Technology and change c.1750-1914
Item code: A281; 10
First transmission date: 25-08-1984
Published: 1984
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:38
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Producer: Neil Cameron
Contributors: Gerry Hagelberg; Philip Hurdwood
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Agriculture; Plant breeding; Polariscope; Sugar beet
Master spool number: HOU4457
Production number: FOUA183W
Videofinder number: 2555
Available to public: no