Bumper beet crop comes with a bonus

A bumper crop of winter feed wasn’t the only thing Matt Greenwood ended up with after sowing Robbos fodder beet last spring.


Thanks to his eye for photography, the South Canterbury contract milker also won a $720 DJI Spark drone from Barenbrug, the company which supplies Robbos.


Since 2011, Matt’s been based in Fairlie, milking 575 cows on a 200ha dryland dairy farm.


The area is prone to snow, and all the cows have been wintered on for the past three years, making 20ha of fodder beet the most appropriate choice for winter forage crops, he says.


“We want to keep as much ground in grass as we can, because that’s our milking platform which generates most of our income, and fodder beet keeps the amount of ha in crop down. Also it’s not as affected by snow as the likes of kale.”


High-yielding, with high feed quality, Robbos was sown 1 October 2017, on the advice of Matt’s retail representative.


The crop averaged 26t dry matter/ha over the 20ha, much more than the previous average of 18t DM/ha, and looked so good when Matt snapped it under grazing mid winter he won the Barenbrug competition for the best Robbos photo.


“It was the highest yielding crop we’ve grown; conditions locally were very favourable and there were a lot of high yielding crops around this area, so I’m not sure it was all down to the cultivar but we were very happy with it.”


Mixed age cows transitioned well onto the Robbos and gained weight during winter, and crop also showed the best leaf health Matt’s had over the past three years, with minimal foliar disease.


Craig Weir, upper South Island area manager for Barenbrug, says green leaf retention and disease resistance is a key characteristic for Robbos and sets it apart from other fodder beet options.


Latest research results from Southland, where disease pressure was high this year, showed Robbos leaves maintained a significantly higher percentage of crude protein than other cultivars sown in the trial, which is a good indicator of leaf health and disease tolerance, he says.


Robbos leaf tested in the top ranking for ME, providing excellent overall quality.


Leaves are important for both cattle grazing the crop, and overall fodder beet performance, Craig says.


“They are the main source of the crop’s protein, so extra leaf means extra protein for livestock. This helps offset the high level of carbohydrate in the bulb, so you end up with a better nutritional balance.”


For more detail, talk to your seed merchant.


Winning photo: