Key considerations when choosing fodder beet

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Following best practice guidelines when introducing fodder beet into your farming system can result in high yields and good utilisation of the crop by your herd. Our agronomists work with their clients through every consideration that needs to be made, from paddock selection through to yield testing, to help them make the most from their land.

🌱 Paddock Selection & Rotations: A prerequisite for successful fodder beet planting is ensuring you have selected the right paddocks, in the right location. Factors like slope, aspect, the proximity to waterways, soil type and natural fertility need to be considered to maximise performance.

Good planning for fodder beet includes ensuring time to plan paddock crop rotations. Considering rotations helps support the long term use and success of fodder beet crops by minimising the risk of soil born disease build up and paddock contamination from bolting fodder beet plants that could set viable seed. A rotation of four or more years is advisable.

🌱 Agronomic Strategy: Fodder beet can be extremely profitable with high yields and exceptional animal performance. Yields are largely determined by the agronomic strategy and its execution. Factors like nutrition, weed control, disease control, cultivar selection, sowing date, planting arrangement and plant population can all be controlled through your agronomist. The combined effect of all of these factors not only influences your final yield, but also the leaf to bulb ratio. More leaf results in more protein, less supplement and lower overall cost.

🌱 Diet Composition: Fodder beet is a low protein, high energy feed that needs to be offered in conjunction with supplements to optimise dietary crude protein and reduce the risk of rumen acidosis in your herd. Prior to planting your crop, ensuring you have the right supplementary provisions in place and the ability to practically execute your supplementary feeding is crucial.

🌱 Yield: Under good growing conditions it is possible to have yields around 28 tonnes in May-June under irrigation, or in regions with good soil and high rainfall. Accurately estimating the potential yield and utilisation of fodder beet under certain environmental conditions is critical in formulating accurate feed budgets. Catalyst agronomists are well versed in formulating realistic targets and appropriate growing budgets in a range of different environments

🌱 Yield testing: Yield testing of fodder beet is a precision exercise with many variables affecting the accuracy of the test including row width, sample frequency and size, and Dry Matter (DM) percentage. Consult with your agronomist before testing.

🌱 Shoulder Feeding: Fodder beet can also play a role in holding body condition of dairy or beef animals on the shoulders of the season. In cooler parts of NZ this has become a valuable strategy in addressing pasture feed deficits.

🌱 Nitrogen Excretion: One advantage over the more traditional kale crop option is that fodder beet crops grazed in winter result in less urinary nitrogen excretion in dairy animals, potentially reducing nitrogen leaching.