UK farmers could make more use of grazed fodder beet as a high-energy stock feed if results from New Zealand are anything to go by.
The crop is paying dividends for dairy, beef and sheep farmers across New Zealand, many of whom are opting for Brigadier from RAGT Seeds.
This high-yielding, proven variety, which is also available in the UK, ticks all the boxes for grazing.
“Advances in herbicides and agronomy techniques are partly behind the remarkable increase in the crop’s popularity in New Zealand, where thousands of acres of the crop are now grown,” says RAGT head of forage crops Helen Wilson.
“New Zealand growers have also been making the most of the fact that Brigadier can be grazed in situ, avoiding the need for expensive harvesting equipment and storage, resulting in a low-cost, high-energy feed for their stock.”
Brigadier’s roots sit higher out of the soil than other varieties – around 60% is exposed. That, together with the softness of the root, due to its low dry matter content, makes the variety ideal for strip grazing.
Despite the low root dry matter, Brigadier delivers one of the highest dry matter yields on an area basis, thanks to its impressive overall root yield, Helen explains.
“I would expect Brigadier to match or beat the best varieties currently grown in the UK, with dry matter yields of up to 20t/ha easily achievable in the right conditions.”
The roots are high in energy but low in crude protein, whereas the tops counterbalance that, ensuring the plant as a whole forms a balanced nutritional feed, says Helen.
Brigadier, a traditional polyploid mangel-type variety, is sown in the spring and has a 4–6 month growing period. “Fodder beet needs to be grown well to get the best out of it, but it is relatively cheap to produce as it has a relatively low nitrogen requirement,” says Helen.
“The reward is a consistent, high energy feed that is highly palatable and digestible for ruminants.”
Fodder beet agronomy tips
- Light to medium soils
- Avoid acid soils – aim for pH 6-6.2
- Well-prepared seed-bed essential, with no compaction
- Sow after last frosts
- Use precision drill; sow two boxes/ha (100,000 seeds) in 400-500 row widths 1.5-2cm deep
- Good weed control vital
- Aim for 100-150kg/ha N (split application), 50-70kg/ha P and 75-200kg/ha K plus 2-3kg/ha boron before planting.
Brigadier agronomic features:
- New Zealand’s number one fodder beet
- Proven over thousands of hectares
- The highest proportion of bulb above ground than any other commercially available variety
- Lowest bulb DM% available (circa 13%) = true mangel type
- Exceptional utilisation by any class of stock
- Ability to feed early due to high proportion of bulb above ground and low DM%.
* For more information on growing Brigadier, please click here