'Grimme Rootster' an investment

Success lies with harvesting beet

DIANE BISHOP
Last updated 16:15 22/07/2014
Kaweku farmer Mark Dillon loves his fodder beet lifter – a Grimme Rootster,  which can lift about a tonne of fodder beet an hour.
DIANE BISHOP/Fairfax NZ

BIG TOY: Kaweku farmer Mark Dillon loves his fodder beet lifter – a Grimme Rootster, which can lift about a tonne of fodder beet an hour.

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Cropping farmer Mark Dillon has a new toy - and he's going to show farmers just what it can do at a field day on his Kaweku property, near Balfour, on Thursday.

Dillon is the proud owner of a fodder beet lifter, known as a Grimme Rootster, which he bought from Landpower in April.

While the other fodder beet harvesters in Southland are self-propelled, Dillon's hooks on to the back of his Massey Ferguson tractor. He admits there "wasn't much change out of $700,000" once he paid for the lifter and a new tractor.

But he reckons it is a good investment.

With a major increase in the amount of fodder beet grown in Southland, the need to lift the crop and cart it to dairy cows in wintering sheds or on pads is growing.

"It's good-quality tucker," Dillon said.

"Stock do really well on it."

Dillon has been growing fodder beet for five years and until now has been lifting it with his modified spud digger which was a slow process.

A fodder beet lifter had been on his wish list for a while. He decided to buy one that hooked on to his tractor because it was much lighter and easier on his soils than a self-propelled harvester, which could weigh up to 30 tonnes.

Dillon grew about 30ha of fodder beet on his northern Southland farm this season to feed his grazing dairy cows and sheep.

"I've been feeding fodder beet to my twin and triplet ewes on grass and they are in great condition," he said.

He has also sold some of the lifted fodder beet to a dairy farmer at Balfour and a stud bull breeder at Waikaka.

He could lift about one hectare of fodder beet an hour and it took about two minutes to fill the hopper to its five-tonne capacity.

The fodder beet was then off-loaded into a side-tipping trailer and carted to a stack.

Dillon, who is busy developing contracts for his fodder beet, aims to grow about 80ha this spring and will increase the number of dairy cows wintered to about 1600.

The beauty of the crop was that it could be lifted from April through to October while maintaining its high sugar content, he said.

Dillon said there had been plenty of interest in his lifter and this had prompted him to hold a field day on his property on Thursday, starting at 1.30pm.

"A lot of people have been keen to see it going," he said. diane.bishop@stl.co.nz

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- The Southland Times

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