Betanal quattro case study - Tim Molloy, Rangiora

Dry stock farming and contract crop drilling mean Tim Molloy gets to follow crops through every stage from sowing to consumption. It gives him a better idea than most about what makes a successful crop programme in Canterbury.

Tim has a solid background in specialty seed cropping, and today his drilling business can claim a significant portion of the expanding fodder beet business from his Rangiora base. He sees the area in beet expanding even further in coming years.

Tim Molloy
Betanal quattro case study - Tim Molloy, Rangiora
Fodder beet has proved to be an increasingly popular crop. We have been involved with it since it restarted 12 years ago, and would have seen the area in beets almost double every year.

The beets’ resilience to dry spells on un-irrigated country, its keeping ability, and high energy value has made it equally appealing to both sheep-beef operators and dairy farmers, all clamouring to get more in the ground as supplement.

It was Tim’s involvement in beet sowing from an early stage and his use of it as a supplement for his beef cattle that made him an obvious candidate to trial Betanal quattro as a beet spray, prior to its launch in 2014.

His time trialling Betanal quattro meant he has identified some key attributes that made it a safer, more effective means of dealing with beet crop weeds. A significant portion of those benefits fall from its simple, single “four in one” formulation.

The single mix solution compared to the three mix alternative is the most obvious thing about Betanal quattro. It certainly reduces the safety hazard that we have when mixed in powder formulations for spray mixes, you have to have a lot more precautions when using powders that can blow in the wind and stick to your safety gear.

He has also found it remains suspended for longer in the spray tank, helping remove a degree of “idiot factor” when the time spent between mixing and application is delayed.

Over the 2014-15 season Tim grew 18.3 ha of beet across varying altitudes. Despite only receiving 110mm of rain between Christmas and May the yields were satisfying, ranging between from 17-19 tDM a hectare.

One of those paddocks we only sprayed with Betanal quattro once, it was a fairly clean paddock to start with. Another we sprayed 10 days post emergence, and then came back 10 days later, which is the usual approach for using Betanal.

He has noticed the “burn off” that typically occurred with the triple mix spray used does not occur with Betanal quattro.

I know it may not have meant necessarily any loss of yield, but it was hard to rule out that it had not effect when you saw the effect it had on the young plants.

Fodder beet is playing an increasing role in supplementing both sheep-beef and dairy farmers’ winter feed reserve. He expects to see that increase again this year.

He personally takes a relatively conservative approach to managing his stocking rate through winter. Based on supplements on hand, and feels comfortable even after a tough season with the rising one year and two year olds he has on hand, getting them through winter.

Tim advises that with more first time beet growers planting in the coming season, it is important they get timely, accurate advice from seed merchants and spray companies like Bayer Crop Science, Betanal quattro manufacturer.

Most guys will need some help managing the agronomy of the crop, not a lot of people have the ability to manage their own crop, and paddock selection, cultivation, spraying, it all plays a part in getting a good consistent yield.

Despite the drop in dairy payout, Tim is confident interest in fodder beet will continue to strengthen over coming years.

It is a very flexible, durable crop and conditions in the North Island are even better suited to growing it, I think we will see a lot more growth come out of there over the next couple of years.