Winter beet: What worked, what didn’t?

Sustainable soil management; healthy, well-fed animals – the best time to plan ahead for these is now.


Something as simple as changing which beet you sow this spring could mean a better nutritional balance for cows or heifers next winter.

The same goes for soil pugging, and loss of sediment and soil P.


A quick review of your 2019 system now, before spring sowing gets underway, will help set you up for a good result in 2020.


Cultivar choice

How did your 2019 beet crop perform in terms of green leaf, or lack of it?

Leaf holding ability is closely related to crude protein content in fodder beet, and as it is a low protein crop, which has known implications for animal health, the more green leaf, the better the balance of the diet for stock.

And our research has shown beet varieties differ in this respect.

Robbos, showed more green leaf which tested last year at 24.5% protein.

This is 3.5% higher than several other commonly used cultivars - while this might not sound a lot, it is equivalent to feeding out 4.5 t DM/ha of silage (with 17% crude protein), a considerable saving!

Robbos is a medium DM content fodder beet, which is 3-4% higher than low DM types.

The rule of thumb is that each 1% extra DM is 1 t DM/ha more yield.

Bulbs sit 45-50% out of the ground, and stock take to it well. Crop utilisation is very high.


Wintering system

With so much focus on winter grazing practices, there’s no better time than now to scope out which paddocks are best for beet next season. 

Contour, size, slope, critical source areas (CSAs), soil type, stock access, water access, grazing pattern and nutrient loss buffer zones cannot be changed once the crop is in the ground.

But they are all easy to identify at present, and there are lots of excellent resources available to help pick your sustainable options for winter 2020.

For more detail on best practice winter grazing, visit; or contact your local district council.