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Betanal quattro case study - Neil Rowe, Rotorua

Farming in the Mamakus near Rotorua, Neil Rowe can claim to be an early fodder beet convert and he is not likely to be changing from that any time soon.

"We have got a good clean high yielding crop, the Betanal has done its job well, being easily mixed as a single solution spray, and its dealt with those problem weeds very effectively,” Neil says.

Farming in the Mamakus near Rotorua, Neil Rowe can claim to be an early fodder beet convert and he is not likely to be changing from that any time soon.

Neil Roe

Like all farmers in the region Neil has become increasingly aware of the environmental footprint his dairy farm has, and the need to reduce the nutrient losses and runoff it experiences as regional controls around such losses tighten.

Four years ago after attending a field day on fodder beets he decided beets could prove an ideal supplement. They are tolerant of dry cropping conditions at altitude (600m), deliver high dry matter yields per hectare and have the ability to store well or be left in the ground for extended periods.

That ability to harvest them and possibly feed them to stock elsewhere has some appeal if we are unable to winter stock directly upon them.

This year he commenced feeding beets out to his milkers in mid-April, and the 11ha will last his 300 head herd through until September.

Growing beets has proven to come with a learning curve, and Neil has been the first in his district to ride that curve to the point he is now able to plant a crop that yields 25tDM/ha.

The biggest thing with beets is to understand you are not simply growing a brassica crop. If you treat it like a brassica crop, you will get a brassica yield.

Cultivation and spraying are two key actions to get right to achieve those 20tDM-plus/ha yields. The contour of Neil’s property prevents ploughing, but discing then power harrowing produces a firm, fine seedbed essential to get the desired seeding density.

Early on I tried sowing without precision planting, but you really need to do that to get as many plants germinating as possible.

Working closely with Bayer Crop Science territory manager Phil Bertram, Neil has also fine tuned his spray programme, ensuring good timing and right spray use result in clean, high yielding crops.

He attributes Phil’s advice and knowledge for moving to Betanal quattro as the post emergent spray of choice in the past year.

We value Phil’s advice. He covers a large area across the North Island and sees a lot of different crops, and different pests we may not always see here, so he can pick things up before they are a problem. He invests a lot of time looking at the crop, and advising us on how to get the best results, not all reps do that.

Problem weeds for Neil in the beet crop are typically red root, nightshade and shepherd’s purse, all dealt with effectively with Betanal quattro.

His spray programme kicks off with a pre-emergent application of Nortron. Then at the early two leaf stage post emergence he applies Betanal quattro, then again 10 days later.

We have got a good clean high yielding crop, the Betanal has done its job well, being easily mixed as a single solution spray, and its dealt with those problem weeds very effectively.

Despite things being gloomy around dairy payout prospects, Neil remains committed to planting beets again this season. 

If you get everything right and spend the time getting them established well, they prove to be an economic crop, but you have to aim to get over 20tDM/ha to make sure it is.