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Maize increases income for Maori Trust farm

Pictured are five of the seven Pouto Topu A Trust trustees (from left): Mark Kapa, Rangi Mitchelson, Henry Holyoake, Rawson Wright and David Ruatara. Absent trustees are Hayden Wright and Henry Kemp.

Maize increases income for Maori Trust farm

2008/09 Season

Owners: Pouto Topu A Trust
Farm location: Northland

Pioneer® brand maize for grain and silage provides an additional income stream for the Pouto Topu A Trust Farm, situated at Pouto on the North Kaipara Penninsula, 60 km south of Dargaville.

This 2,981 ha freehold farm, which is owned by 475 Maori shareholders, was formed in 1953 through the amalgamation of a large number of small blocks. A farm trust was formed in 1977 and was administered by the Department of Maori Affairs until 1989, when it was handed over to a Trust Board to manage.

The farm has five separate units – sheep and beef, intensive beef, forestry and two dairy units. The sheep and beef unit runs around 1,400 breeding ewes and a predominantly Hereford and Hereford-cross beef herd. The intensive beef unit runs a small milking herd to feed bobby calves which are taken through to a slaughter weight of around 300 kg carcass at 26-30 months. The forestry unit is leased to a forestry company and planted in pine trees. The two dairy units milk a total of around 1,100 cows and are managed by two 50:50 sharemilkers.

The trust employs a dairy and a sheep and beef consultant on the farm to help oversee the management of the livestock enterprises. It was the advice of sheep and beef consultant Gavin Ussher which led to the Trust starting to grow maize six years ago.

“Gavin demonstrated we could make more money out of planting maize on the sheep and beef unit rather than having the same area in animals,” says Rangi Mitchelson, who is the longest-serving trustee having been on the board for 25 years. “It gives us another string to our bow and another source of income.”

For the first few years, the farm grew maize for grain as a cash crop. In the last three years, they have also grown an area of silage which is sold to one of the dairy units and used to feed autumn calving cows over the winter months.

While Gavin handles the planning and budgeting, local agricultural contractor David Wordsworth does the bulk of the crop work and keeps an eye on the maize during the growing season.

Last year, a total of 30 ha were planted in Pioneer® brand 36B08. The grain crop achieved an average yield of 13.5 t/ha while a strip trial of Pioneer® brand 35D28 won the Auckland North Regional Yield Cup in the Pioneer Maize for Grain Yield Competition with a yield of 17.38 t/ha.

This season, the Trust has planted 34 ha of grain and 7.5 ha of silage on the sheep and beef farm and 6 ha of silage on one of the dairy units.

“The main hybrid is 36B08 chosen for its good drought tolerance, standability and consistent reliable performance,” says David. “We have also planted some 35A30.”

The farm’s sandy-loam soils make it ideal for growing maize, allowing for early planting and an excellent growing environment.

This year’s crop was planted on 15 October using a starter fertiliser of DAP applied at 225 kg/ha for grain and 250 kg/ha for silage. Paddocks were sidedressed with 275 kg/ha urea. Silage will be harvested in early March and the grain crop should be ready by early April, allowing the land to be planted in annual ryegrass which will be used to winter lambs.