Dairyman Paul Rovey faces the same scenario as other western milk producers besieged by lower prices and higher feed costs – create crop production efficiencies without sacrificing quality.

Rovey may have found an answer for the family’s Rovey Dairy – so called ‘feed beets.’ Feed beets (beets) are sugar beet hybrids grown for dairy and beef cow rations.

“Beets are a leap ahead for the dairy industry and can help dairymen become more efficient, sustainable, and reduce input costs,” Rovey said.

Rovey is growing beets on an experimental basis.

This June, Rovey harvested his first crop of beets on the Rovey farm during a feed beet field day sponsored by Betaseed, a beet seed producer based in Shakopee, Minn.

Rovey is growing Betaseed’s first feed beet varieties - DFR241 and DRR251 – which include Genuity herbicide tolerant genetics.

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About 40 people watched intently as harvest equipment crisscrossed the 38-acre beet field, planted late last fall. The field is adjacent to the Arizona Loop 101 freeway with the University of Phoenix stadium, home of the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals, a short stone’s throw across the highway.

Representatives of the Amity Technology farm equipment company were on hand. Amity’s model 3200 defoliator mowed the green tops off the beets. The company’s model 2200 harvester plucked the beets from the soil. An attached vertical conveyor belt dumped the beets into a semi-truck trailer moving parallel to the harvester.

The beets were trucked to the dairy site where a machine from Cross cleaned the beets, removed stones, and chopped the beets into nugget size.

As the ration with beets was fed to the cow herd, Rovey meandered around the cows with a grin pasted across his face.

Rovey, wife Deborah, and four children – Tamara, Eric, Mark, and Brett – operate the dairy located in Glendale, just west of Phoenix. The milk is processed into cheese in nearby Tempe.

Rovey is no stranger in dairy circles. He serves as chairman of Dairy Management Incorporated and the U.S. Dairy Export Council. He is on the boards of directors of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and the Salt River Project. Rovey is president of United Dairymen of Arizona.