Helps improve pasture persistence

Growing and feeding maize silage can help improve pasture persistence8. Planting a maize silage crop is an integral part of the pasture renewal process because it provides an opportunity to address more of the factors that were negatively impacting pasture yield and persistence than a grass-to-grass pasture renewal programme does.

Table 4: Factors that influence pasture yields  
Can be addressed Can not be addressed
Poor drainage
Low soil fertility
Low soil pH
Soil compaction
Weeds Insects and slugs
Low-yielding pasture species
Carryover of old lower-yielding ryegrass seed
Topography
Aspect
Soil type

The maize cultivation process allows farmers to conduct drainage work, address soil fertility issues and decrease soil compaction. It provides two chances to decrease weeds (when the paddock is sprayed out prior to crop establishment in the spring and again in the autumn prior to regrassing). Since the ground is out of pasture for several months, insect numbers and the carryover of old, lower yielding ryegrass seeds are also reduced.

Maize silage can be held on farm and fed when required to prevent overgrazing or pugging. Since maize is a forage, it is a better option to manipulate pasture cover levels than concentrate feeds (e.g. PKE, meal, grain). Maize silage plus a well designed stand-off pad allows farmers to keep cows off wet pastures and drought affected pastures without compromising production or animal welfare.

8 Densley et al, 2011. Use of maize silage to improve pasture persistence in dairy farm systems: a review. Proceedings of the Pasture Persistence Symposium, Hamilton