Maria Villagrasa & Fernando Diaz

In areas where pasture is the main type of food, the low efficiency in nitrogen use causes its excess to be excreted and accumulated in the waterways and groundwater. To avoid this, crops with lower N concentrations in their dry matter (DM) compared to pasture have been sought; one such crop is forage beets (Beta vulgaris).

Forage beet is a biennial plant that can grow at temperatures between 8-25oC and is tolerant to drought as well as frost. It produces underground tubers that are shaped like a rounded cylinder and are easily harvested. It has a relatively low DM content (between 12% and 20%) as well as protein (about 6-10% DM basis), calcium and phosphorus. The neutral detergent fiber is 42.0% DM basis, and the acid detergent fiber 22.7%, DM basis. Forage beets can result in a feedstuff of high nutritional and digestible value also highly palatable to dairy cattle.

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