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Betanal quatro case study - Andrew Hide, North Canterbury

Andrew Hide’s grandfather started the family’s North Canterbury spray contracting business 67 years ago, in a setting vastly different to what his grandson operates in today.

The North Canterbury area then was dryland sheep and beef farms where today Andrew’s clients include a significant proportion of dairy farmers who have taken those dryland operations and converted over the past 20 years. Water sourced from the Waimakariri Irrigation project completed in 2002 now covers 18,000ha, linked by 250km of irrigation races.

Andrew and Graham Hide

The growth in dairying has coincided with an increase in demand for high quality, consistent feed crops. It is a demand that has heightened with the region experiencing one of the driest periods on record. By the end of July some parts of the region had only experienced 90mm of rainfall. Andrew says soil moisture levels are at historic all time lows.

In the last couple of years fodder beet has provided a welcome boost for dairy cow diets, and even more so over the prolonged dry spell. Andrew can recall a type of beet being popular 30-plus years ago when his grandfather had the business.

“But the problem then was that there were no sprays capable of dealing to the weeds, and usually the weeds won out,” he says.

Fast forwarding to today, he appreciates having a new spray treatment that offers an effective control to the many weed challenges the modern fodder beet crop faces. That control comes in the form of Betanal Quattro and last season was the first time Andrew had the opportunity to use it on his clients’ beet crops.

“Much of the time and expense with fodder beet comes up front. It’s not a simple or cheap crop to establish, and requires a lot of care and attention to ensure you keep weed infestation low early on. Once it’s up and growing its fine, but you have to get it to that point successfully first.”

To achieve that he used Betanal Quattro as his choice for post emergent sprays, applying the first treatment when the beet plant has reached the two-true leaf stage. That is usually followed up by a second treatment two weeks later.

Betanal Quattro’s “one mix” formulation is appreciated by Andrew on the precious, ideal spray days when there are multiple crops to spray, and multiple boxes of different spray products only slows things down.

“Betanal quattro is very much a one shot solution. It mixes easily, is only one container and there is no residue left in the tank when you are done, it stays in suspension very well throughout the entire application.”

One problem weed he is dealing to with Betanal Quattro is stinging nettle, which lingers from when the farms were dry land shelter belted properties before the shelter was taken out to enable irrigators to operate.

“And it deals with it very effectively, and I usually find a second spray is sufficient.”

Farming in what may be NZ’s longest drought period has been tough on farmers in the North Canterbury region, with options limited as time has passed. The ability to grow a high quality feed economically during tough times for dairying has been a bonus for the region’s famers and Andrew anticipates the area planted this spring will be up on last year, despite tight payout conditions. The high yields from fodder beet grown properly continue to mean it stacks up as a feed option.

“We have found generally Betanal Quattro will do the job of controlling early weed numbers down, which is good because when it comes to fodder beet we really do not have a lot of spray options.”