Fodder Beet, also is known as the fattening tuber, is a high yielding dairy fodder crop. As referenced in an article written in the Standard newspaper, farmers feeding their cattle with fodder beet have recorded up to three times more litres of milk in a day.
Compared to other dairy fodders, fodder beet requires less space for planting but gives more feed in return.
Fodder beet is similar to beetroots, but it is large and has low sugar levels. The funny part is that the fooder is very popular in almost all countries, but nobody knows it.
Without wasting more time, let’s get started on fodder beet farming in Kenya the right way.
Fodder Beet Farming in Kenya: The Best High Yielding Forage Crop
Fodder beet is a high yield crop, requires less land for its cultivation. The fodder crop thrives well in soils with good drainage, which makes loam soil suitable for farming. The salinity level of the ground or water also has no adverse effect on this crop.
Therefore, you should check the soil PH level, which should be between 6-6.5, as beets are sensitive to acid soils.
Thorough soil preparation by a turning plough or disc harrow is need before planting. To achieve high yields, you need to split your fields into paddocks to allow and control grazing when the crop starts to mature.
Fodder Beet Farming in Kenya – Sowing
For a good crop of fodder beet, there should be about 80,000-90,000 seeds per hectare. For this, you need about 20 – 25kg of seeds per hectare.
Sowing the fodder beet in ridges just like you do for sweet potatoes yields higher yields in return than planting on a flat surface. In addition, the furrows made from the ridges are used to irrigate the crop, which also saves 20 – 25 per cent of water.
After sowing the seeds, you need to water immediately and ensure that the water does not reach the top of the ridges and remains only in the furrows. Otherwise, a crust will form on the top of the seeds, making the sprout not come out.
Fertilizer and manure application.
Due to fodder beats’ high production capacity, large amounts of nutrients are absorbed from the ground.
Therefore, every third year in the field of fodder beet, at the time of preparation of the area, add 15 – 20tonnes per hectare of ripe cow dung.
Apart from this, you should apply nitrogen fertilizer at 150kg per hectare, phosphorus 75kg, and potash 150kg per hectare.
Make half the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash at the time of sowing. Give half of the remaining nitrogen in two equal parts after weeding 30 and 50 days after sowing.
Most varieties of fodder beet support the growth of multiply plants from the same seed. This means that, after a period of twenty days after germination, the distance between plant to plant should be 20cm.
Since this crop’s initial growth is prolonged, weeding is essential after 30-50 days of sowing.
First irrigation should be conducted at the interval of 15 days immediately after sowing until late March, when it is reduced to intervals of 8 – 10 days as required.
Before uprooting the fodder beets, cut the leaves 2 to 3 inches above the ground and feed them to your animals as fodder.
After this, apply 25kg per hectare of nitrogen to the crop at the irrigation time to start growing fast. When the leaves at the bottom of the plant begin to dry, and the other leaves start turning yellowish, it’s time to uproot the tubers.
Method of feeding fodder beets
Wash the leaves and tubers and then cut them into small pieces. These pieces are fed to the animals directly.
Feed a fully grown adult dairy with 10-15kg (tuber and green leaves) per day, gradually increasing the quantity.
4-7 kg per animal is suitable for Sheep and goats. On days when feeder beets are fed to animals, you can reduce only half of their distribution. Fodder beets can also be cut and dried in sunlight and stored.