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Forage root crops

Forage root crops are a group of crops whose roots are used for feed purposes.

Forage root crops include:

  • fodder beet;
  • fodder swede;
  • turnip;
  • fodder carrots.

Economic importance

In the structure of Russian fodder production, forage root crops account for 2%, among succulent fodder – 17% (All-Russian Research Institute of Feed named after V.R. Williams). In farms of dairy specialization, the share of root crops in succulent feed reaches 35-50%.

Despite the low content of dry matter in root crops, which varies depending on the variety, species, growing conditions from 9 to 23%, the value of fodder root crops is significant. Basically, they serve as an easily digestible food with a high carbohydrate content. The introduction of root crops into the diets of animals allows you to balance the carbohydrate-protein balance of feed, which should contain 120-150 g of carbohydrates per 100 g of digestible protein. Usually this balance is disturbed in the spring and autumn periods, and often in winter. Haylage and especially silage cannot eliminate the lack of carbohydrates.

Root crops have both a good mineral and amino acid composition. The ash substances of root crops contain on average up to 3.4% potassium, 1.1% phosphorus, 0.7% calcium and 0.35% magnesium, as well as trace elements (cobalt, copper, zinc, manganese).

The share of protein accounts for 1-2.2%, however, it includes essential amino acids: lysine, methionine, arginine.

The leaves of root crops also have nutritional value. They contain more than root crops, protein, vitamins, solids, can be used fresh and ensiled or used as a raw material for the production of herbal flour and granules (Kireev et al., 1977).

According to Tomme, the nutritional value of 100 kg of root crops is:

  • fodder beet – 12 feed units, the content of digestible protein is 0.9 kg;
  • feed carrots – 14 feed units, the content of digestible protein is 0.9 kg;
  • swede – 13 feed units, the content of digestible protein is 0.9 kg;
  • turnip – 9 feed units, the content of digestible protein is 0.7 kg.

Feed value of 100 kg of leaves:

  • fodder beets – 10 feed units, the content of digestible protein is 2.0-2.1 kg;
  • feed carrots – 17 feed units, the content of digestible protein is 2.3 kg;
  • rutabaga – 10 feed units, the content of digestible protein is 1.6 kg;
  • turnip – 11 feed units, the content of digestible protein is 1.6 kg.

In semi-sugar beet varieties, the feed value of 100 kg of root crops is 15 feed units, the content of digestible protein is 1.4 kg, and the tops are 11 feed units.

Root crops and leaves serve as a source of vitamins: C, B1, B2, PP and carotene. The greatest content of vitamin C 31-47 mg/100 g of raw weight of root crops is distinguished by swede. 1 kg of carrots contains 104-254 mg of carotene (All-Russian Institute of Plants). The content of vitamin C in the green mass of leaves is (Sinyakova et al., 1980):

  • swede and turnip – 120-130 mg/100 g fresh weight;
  • carrots – 70 mg/100 g of fresh weight;
  • beets – 50 mg/100 g wet weight.

The digestibility of root crops is not inferior to the digestibility of young pasture grass. In the production of milk, they serve as milk-producing feed, promote the assimilation of roughage. The presence of root crops in the diet of root crops contributes to an increase in the life expectancy of animals, fattening, the time of their use, improves the quality of the offspring and reproductive capacity, and saves concentrated feed.

The type of fodder root crops is not of great importance for dairy cattle, provided that the daily norms for feeding feed are observed in the diets. Feeding more than 20-25 kg of swede or turnip per day per cow can lead to a deterioration in the taste of milk due to the presence of mustard oils in the feed. The daily norm of semi-sugar beets should also not exceed the indicated norm, so as not to harm the health of animals. Feed norms for fodder beets have not been established.

All fodder root crops are tilled crops, therefore they are of agrotechnical importance.

Cultivation areas

In the USSR and Russia fodder root crops are cultivated almost everywhere.

The sown areas in the USSR amounted to over 1.4 million hectares, 85-90% of them were for fodder beets, the rest – for rutabaga, turnips and fodder carrots. Gross harvest of root crops – 20 million tons.

Fodder beet crops are widespread in the north-west of Russia, in the central and southern regions. Turnip and rutabaga – in the north-west of the country, in the north of the Non-Chernozem zone. Turnip is also cultivated in the south as a catch crop. Carrot crops are ubiquitous, mainly in the farms of large fruit and vegetable associations and poultry farms. In the structure of sown areas of farms, fodder root crops occupy a small share. When determining the area of ​​crops, they proceed from the needs of farms for feed, depending on the number of livestock, for example, at least 5-6 tons of root crops per year are required per head of cattle.

In 2001-2005 in Russia, the area under fodder crops was 140-250 thousand hectares, the gross harvest was 2.9 million tons, that is, the reduction was more than 7 times after the collapse of the USSR. The average yield is 20 t/ha. There is no official statistics on the types of fodder root crops in Russia.


“Cultivating root crops and potatoes is the same as getting three ears where one used to grow.”

D.N. Pryanishnikov

First D.N. Pryanishnikov had in mind the high potential productivity of potatoes and root crops, including fodder crops. For example, in the conditions of the south of Ukraine, when irrigated, the yield of fodder beet can reach 100-120 t/ha, on rainfed crops 45-50 t/ra.

In the period of the USSR, they received crops of fodder beets:

  • in the Belozersky district of the Kherson region (collective farm named after Kirov, Ukraine), the maximum yield reached 256.3 t/ha (1982);
  • in the Gomel region (collective farm named after Lenin, Belarus) on drained lands – 103.0 t/ha of root crops;
  • in the Tashkent region of Uzbekistan (state farm “Nazarbek”) in 1983 – 80 t/ha;
  • in Chuvashia – 78-96 t/ha;
  • in the Moscow and Leningrad regions – over 100 t/ha.

Forage carrot yields were:

  • in the Moscow regions (state farm “Zaoksky”) – 70.4 t / ha (1982);
  • in the Kyiv region (state farm “Buchansky”, Ukraine) – 100 t/ha.

High yields of turnip and rutabaga were obtained in the Leningrad, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Kirov regions, as well as Belarus and the Baltic states. The yield of rutabaga, according to the SZNIISKh, averaged over 6 years over 6 years, was more than 63 t/ha, turnip – more than 88 t/ha, together with leaves – about 100 t/ha. In Estonia (state farm “Adavere”) annually received from the area of ​​50-60 hectares fodder rutabaga crop of 80 t/ha. In the Moscow region (state farm named after Telman), the yield of rutabaga was more than 80 t/ha

In the conditions of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, the yield of swede is more than 50 t/ha, turnip – 90 t/ha of turnip.

Botanical description

All fodder root crops are biennial plants. In the first year of life, they form a root crop, in the second – fruits.


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V.V. Kolomeichenko. Crop production / Textbook. — M.: Agrobusinesscenter, 2007. — 600 p. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6.

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Agriculture and crop production. Ed. V.S. Niklyaev. – M .: “Epic”, 2000. – 555 p.