Direct drilled fodder beet gaining ground

Posted by Dianne Bisdee on 19 December 2014

Geraldine contractor Brian Waller started direct drilling fodder beet three years ago for the simplest of reasons – one of his clients asked him to.

Running two Duncan Ag Enviro 3000E’s and sowing up to 5000 ha of pasture, brassicas and cereal a year, Waller was happy to oblige.

He knew the beet would be grazed in situ, and figured if he adjusted one of the Enviros slightly, the notoriously fiddly crop could be direct drilled with just as good results as if it had been precision sowed, but for a lower cost. 

“Both our drills have 115 mm coulter spacings; we’ve always preferred that spacing, for better ground coverage and results. All we did with the beet was shut off every second coulter, and sow every second row. We’ve done 100,000 seeds/ha and now we’re up to 120,000.”

Initial results were good enough that Waller was asked back to sow fodder beet again the following year, and after that crop came second in the local A&P winter feed competition, the word spread. This year, Waller has again sown beet for that original client, as well as for others.

“If the beets are being lifted, you do need them to be spaced precisely so the machine can pick them up, but my guys are just grazing them, so they’re happy with our seed placement, and it saves them an extra cost.”

Waller has used Duncan Ag drills since founding the business over 25 years ago. Having seen what can be achieved with minimal soil disturbance on his own property, he’s in no doubt of the benefits of direct drilling.

“We were forever fighting stones when we started here. Now there would be 25-30 mm of good humus and built up soil in our hollows, simply through not turning over the soil. Direct drilling has transformed this place, plus it has such a quick turn around.”

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