When research results from the programme become available, they will be published here.
Winter growth and quality of fodder beet research
As part of the Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching programme, results from research undertaken by Plant and Food Research have been published.
The aim of the research was to quantify changes of dry matter (DM) yield and nutritional composition for fodder beet crops sown at four dates in spring and early summer in 2014.
The experiment was also used to generate information on the effect of winter temperatures on the vernalisation (the exposure of seeds or plants to low temperatures in order to induce or hasten flowering) and the floral initiation processes.
The impact of deferred grazing on DM yield
Spring sown fodder beet crops are traditionally fed to livestock during winter the following year. However, some farmers have been extending/deferring in situ grazing of fodder beet until late winter/early spring to carry a relatively low cost supplementary feed and allow spring pasture to accumulate.
Until now, there has been no evidence quantifying the impact that deferred grazing has on DM yield and quality of fodder beet crops.
- DM yield or quality was not compromised as a result of deferring fodder grazing until the end of winter or early spring.
- Crops should be grazed or lifted by mid-September before the onset of ‘bolting’ to ensure no seed is set.
- Total DM yield increased by 1–3 t DM/ha over the winter period (June to September). This was mainly attributed to the changes in bulb DM yield along with a small increase in DM% increase with time; 13.5% in June to 14.6% in September.
- The bulb component represented 77–83% of the total DM yield at the final harvest. The high bulb component meant the crop nutritional composition followed a similar trend, thus, lower for those elements that were lower in the bulb, e.g. crude protein (CP; 9--11.5%), acid detergent fibre (9.8%) and neutral detergent fibre (17.4%), and higher for those higher in bulb, e.g. total soluble carbohydrates (57–61%).
- Overall, most quality attributes were unaffected by sowing date except for the crude protein (CP), which increased with delayed sowing from 9% for the October sowing to 11.5% for the December sown crops and the soluble sugars and starch which decreased with delayed sowing from 61% for the October sown crops to 57% for the December sown crops.
- The total green leaf area index (LAI) was lower than the critical LAI necessary to maintain complete cover over the winter period. This means plants were not able to capture all of the incoming radiation and therefore lost potential to increase DM yield.
Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching is a DairyNZ-led collaborative research programme that combines the expertise and resources of DairyNZ, AgResearch, Plant and Food Research, Lincoln University, Foundation for Arable Research and Landcare Research.