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Maize provides diversification options

Peter Kelly, Lloyd Farms Manager (left) with Pioneer Area Manager Richard Brenton-Rule inspect Peter's crop of Pioneer® brand 37Y12.

Maize provides diversification options

2008/09 Season

Owners: Lloyd Farms and Waikiki Farms
Farm location: Waikato

Maize provides Te Kauwhata-based Lloyd and Waikiki Farms the opportunity to diversify their income without adding additional workload during busy times. It has also played an important development role allowing the conversion of land from willows and stumps into productive pasture.

Lloyd Farms is owned by Auckland-based Brian Lloyd and his cousin Peter Kelly manages the combined operation. Both the Lloyd and the Kelly families have a long association with the area having been farming in the district since 1927.

The combined farm area of 526 ha includes 142 ha of maize grain, 16 ha of grapes and just over 100 ha leased-out for growing potatoes, onions and watermelons. The farm also has a 5.5 ha QE2 conservation block which is in virgin native bush. The remaining area is used to fatten bulls and steers which are purchased as yearlings.

Lloyd Farms started growing maize in the mid 1990s as a development tool to help bring land covered in stumps and willows into the farming operation.

“The maize settled the country down and allowed us to bring the Olsen P and the pH up relatively quickly,” says Peter. “A big benefit was we could generate some income while we developed the land.”

Maize also played an important role in regrassing poorer quality pastures and providing income stability. “It’s good not having all your eggs in the same basket.”

Land that has been in potatoes and onions for three years is planted in maize. This year, the farm planted 142 ha of Pioneer® brand maize for grain that will be harvested and sold for starch in late April and May. The crop is planted and harvested by a local contractor.

Prior to planting, Peter and employee Dennis Baldwin do all the groundwork and spraying. This year, they ripped the clay country in an attempt to aerate the hard soils and break the clay pan.

“We realised how hard it was when we stalled a 335 hp tractor trying to pull the rippers through,” says Peter.

The farm’s mix of soil types is reflected in Peter’s hybrid selections.

“We have planted 34P88 and 35A30 on the medium to heavy organic soil on the flats,” says Peter. “Because we tend to get hammered by the drought, we have planted 37Y12 on the drier rolling clay country.”

“One of the big benefits of maize is we are only busy for a short period,” says Peter. “It fits in well with the workload of the beef operation.”

Last year, Lloyd Farms won the Waikato Regional Yield Cup in the Pioneer Maize for Grain Yield Competition with a strip trial yield of 18.7 t/ha of 34P88.

“We were very pleased to win given that it wasn’t a great year because of the drought,” says Peter. “The heavier soils did over 13 t/ha but our average yield on the clay country was much less. During the winter we ripped the heavy clay country so we can get the water into it instead of having it run off the top. We hope this will make a difference but we will have to wait for a season to find out if we have done the right thing.”