Environmentally sustainable

Growing and feeding maize silage can reduce some of the environmental concerns associated with the intensification of dairying.

Growing maize

Maize has:

  • an effective rooting depth of 150 - 180 cm which allows it to capture nutrients that have dropped out of the root zone of shallow rooted pasture species3.
  • a nitrogen use efficiency approximately three times that of pasture4.
  • a water use efficiency up to twice that of perennial ryegrass on an annual basis and up to three times greater on a summer seasonal basis5.

Feeding maize

Feeding maize silage:

  • in conjunction with high protein pasture dilutes dietary protein and reduces nitrogen excretion by the cow.
  • can reduce the quantity of nitrogen leached per kgMS provided best-management maize cropping practices are followed4.

Using best management practices to grow maize silage and feeding it on a feed pad can significantly reduce nitrogen leaching losses when compared to intensive all-grass systems4.

3Grignani, C: Zavattoro, L ; Sacco, D.; Monaco, S 2007. Production, nitrogen and carbon balance of maize-based forage systems, European Journal of Agronomy 26:442-453.

4Williams, I.D., S.F. Ledgard, G.O. Edmeades, and R.J. Densley.2007. Comparative environmental impacts of intensive all-grass and maize silage-supplemented dairy farms systems: a review. Proc. New Zealand Grassland Assoc. 69: 137-143.

5Neal, J.S., K.L. Greenwood, J.M. de Ruiter, and R.J. Martin. 2007 Water use efficiency, productivity and profitability - how do forages compare? p. 240-255. In Proc. Australasian Dairy Science Symposium.