As summer approaches, farmers across New Zealand begin to shift their focus towards preparing winter feed for next year. One crop, in particular, has been turning heads and gaining momentum in the farming community. The crop in question? Fodder beet, also known as Mangelwurzel.
Farmlands Agronomist Michael Bennet told REX host Dominic George about its exciting winter feed option and how it can revolutionize farming practices in New Zealand.
"Fodder beet has taken a more significant role over the last 20 years because we've been having issues with brassica diseases, particularly club roots and dry rots," Bennett explained.
"Fodder beet provides an alternative crop choice that's immune to these diseases, making it a robust and reliable choice for winter feed."
But the benefits of fodder beet go beyond its immunity to disease. According to Bennett, fodder beet carries its quality well into spring, providing a valuable feed option that can take the pressure off grass, particularly during the transition from autumn to winter. This longevity can provide farmers with a significant advantage in managing their winter feed requirements.
Bennett, however, cautioned that while fodder beet offers many benefits, it only fits some systems.
The planning stage is crucial for the successful integration of fodder beet into a farming system. Soil pH, herbicide residues, environmental considerations, and soil type all play significant roles in the success of this crop.
Another standout feature of fodder beet is its flexibility in terms of cultivars.
"Look, it's horses for courses. Your highest yields generally come from your higher dry matter beets or your sugar beets.
"But those higher dry matter beets... are probably better suited for lifting than grazing in situ," Bennett said.
Of course, no crop is without its challenges, and fodder beet is no exception. Bennett pointed out that transitioning livestock from a grass diet to beet and supplement can present challenges, such as acidosis in cattle. Careful management and gradual transition are key to mitigating these potential issues.
Despite the potential challenges, fodder beet presents a game-changing opportunity for farmers in New Zealand. With its resistance to some diseases, longevity, and high yields, fodder beet could indeed revolutionize the farming landscape in New Zealand.
Whether you're a seasoned farmer or a newcomer in the field, fodder beet might just be the winter game-changer you've been waiting for.
Visit farmlands.co.nz for more information.
Listen to the full chat between Farmlands Agronomist Michael Bennet and Dominic George above.