Fodder beet here to stay
Since using fodder beet in his system this year Farmer, Harold O’Connor is well on the way to significantly improving his farming operation. Fodder beet has enabled him to slow down his grass rotation and finish his bull beef earlier than he has traditionally achieved with swedes.
As well as running an agricultural contracting business, Harold owns and leases approximately 800 acres around Kapuka in Southland, which he uses for dairy support and finishing his own bull beef. In the past he has run a brassica wintering system, rotating into a short term or permanent ryegrass mix. The system had however become too costly with a large area of land being taken out each year for winter feed. The idea behind replacing the swedes for fodder beet was to grow the same dry matter yield in half the land area. With the increased popularity of beet in recent years, Harold was also finding some of his clients were specifically requesting fodder beet for grazing.
Having consulted his PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative, Phil Simons, Harold put in 23 hectares of precision sown Jamon fodder beet in mid-November. Phil, a big Jamon supporter, says “Jamon grows really well in this coastal area. Being a medium dry matter type suits the mixed aged cows and bull beef going onto it. It has good utilisation and sits well out of the ground.” Jamon is one of Agricom’s top performing cultivars, and has been Europe’s biggest selling fodder beet for many years. Agricom’s extensive trialing programme places a real emphasis on gaining regional specific data, and one of the most noticeable attributes observed with Jamon is its ability to consistently perform in many different climates and soil types throughout New Zealand.
The crops were weighed in May and achieved an overall average yield of 21 t DM per ha, with his top performing paddock just shy of 25 t. Harold was pleased with this result as he had previously only been growing eight to 10 t DM per ha of swedes. Having his own cultivation and drilling business, he understood the importance of making sure the seed bed preparation was right and also precision drilling the seed to maximise yields. The beet struck really well with a good, even germination but the area quickly went dry for about six weeks throughout December and January, and the beet just sat there through this period. “As soon as the autumn rains came, it was away.” says Harold.
"I’m very happy with the uniformity of the crop and have noticed the cows grazing Jamon are pretty content."
As well as wintering mixed aged cows on beet, he is also aiming to finish his bull beef on the crop by spring. In the past he was unable to achieve this with swedes and had to carry stock through the spring. Harold has been impressed with the results of incorporating Jamon into his winter feed system and plans to sow it again this spring.
For more information on Jamon fodder beet contact your PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.
Supplied by Agricom