“Two years ago we told Joe we would plant the whole farm in VPMAXX® if he could help us meet our maize crop yield targets,” Conrad says.
“Our whole feed plan is based around how much maize we harvest, so it is critical that our crop performs to the best of its ability.”
Conrad and wife Aileen (Snow) have been 50/50 sharemilking for two seasons on Ken Couper’s farm, milking 700 cows in the valley south of Waipu township.
They are proud milk suppliers to local company Fresha Valley, which supplies retail milk products to outlets throughout northern New Zealand.
Supplying a local milk company means the business is paid on total litres of milk produced, rather than kilograms of milk solids.
“We ramped our maize up to be able to supply the sheer volume of milk required,” Conrad says.
“The amount of quality feed we can get into the cows determines whether or not we can achieve this, and if our crop yield is good, maize is the cheapest, quality feed we can get.”
Supplying milk year-round also means the Samus are currently transitioning from calving three times a year, to four times a year.
“It sounds daunting, but you soon settle into a good routine,” Conrad says.
“It’s not as intensive as conventional farming, where you experience a big calving and then a big mating.”
Conrad budgets on feeding 4kgDM of maize silage to all cows, every day of the year.
“We’re basically a system 6, if there was such a thing,” Conrad says.
“Maize is a great tool to get through every winter, and keep condition on cows throughout the year.”
This is the second season the Samus have grown VPMAXX ®maize on farm. With Joe’s help they worked through a plan to split the hybrid selection and planting dates to try and get the best result from of their flats, as well as the drier hill areas of the farm.
Ten hectares of early/mid-maturity VP522 was planted on the drier back hills in late September and harvested in mid-February.
A lease block was also planted with 8 ha of VP522 in mid-October and harvested in early March.
And on the wetter home flats, 22 ha of long-maturity VP647 was planted mid-October and harvested in early March.
Although the maize yield last season was a very respectable 22 tDM/ha, tailoring their solution and using suitable hybrids for different conditions will likely see an improved maize yield for the Samus.
“Joe has also put a number of trials on the farm this year, which have been exciting to see,” Conrad says.
“Trials on the flats and lease block yielded 28 tDM/ha, which is a huge increase.”
Conrad says the advice and support Joe offers goes above and beyond what is expected.
“He is not only knowledgeable about maize, but has really well-rounded views of other crops, and even whole farming systems, due to his vast experience,” Conrad says.
“Joe is genuinely concerned to help us grow the very best crops we can. I’ve told him he’s never allowed to retire.”