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2020/21 Season

Owners: Peter Collins
Farm location: Pareora, Canterbury
Farm size: 950 ha
Herd size: 1200
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: P8000

Four seasons ago, he pulled the pin on the maize crop he had been growing, unproductively, for two years.

But with the help of Pioneer Area Manager Daryl Moore, he’s back with all guns blazing.

“Maize is amazing,” Peter says. “Contrary to popular belief, you can grow maize between Timaru and Oamaru; we’re well and truly proving that without a doubt.”

Peter and wife Bonny, who farm 950 ha Dalmore Farm in South Canterbury, are celebrating 50 years on the farm in 2020.

They started with a potato crop, going on to develop a livestock fattening operation before they started milking cows in 2013.

They planted a maize crop in 2014, but a combination of factors led them to discontinue the crop in 2015.

“We didn’t really know enough about the crop itself,” Peter says.

“The maize was harvested far too green, and we didn’t get the full benefit of enough starch.”

In the following two seasons Peter’s 1,200 cows milked well at 500 kgMS/cow, but he knew something wasn’t right.

“The health of the cows was good, but they were milking off their backs,” he says.

“Having fattened livestock for many years I know when an animal is in good condition.”

On the advice of local farmer Aad van Leeuwen, Peter tried again and planted 100 ha of maize in 2017 - but this time, he engaged the advice and experience of Pioneer’s Daryl Moore.

“Daryl has been outstanding,” Peter says.

“He did his research and chose the right hybrid – P8000 – and as a result, we've had a phenomenal yield of 27 tDM/ha, with 37% starch; you can’t grow it any better than that.”

Peter says the maize silage in the pit is 40-45% drymatter; good consolidation and a double cover means the quality of the fermentation is excellent.

Since maize silage has been reintroduced to the farm system, and a new wintering barn built, Peter’s herd has achieved high production and the cows now maintain their top condition.

“The condition on the cows this season and last has been terrific, almost beyond recognition,” Peter says.

“Cow production has increased from 500 kgMS to 550 kgMS thanks to the increased levels of starch they are getting from the maize.”

Peter also fattened 800 bulls this season on grass silage and maize silage.

“They were sold in great condition at a great price; we were getting 1.2 kg of growth per day on maize silage,” he says.

Peter does all of the maize field work himself, starting with spreading the effluent from the barn onto the maize paddocks, which helps to reduce fertiliser costs.

“We also bought a 12-row maize planter, so we can sow over 100 ha in a couple of days, as well as our own silage chopper and a shear grab,” Peter says.

“It grabs three tonnes of maize with every scoop, and wastage is virtually nil.”

“We’re in it for the long haul now; we’ve got all the gear!”

Peter says their success this time around is all thanks to Daryl.

“This fella has been prepared to put in the effort with us, and we have seen results,” he says.

“Daryl is here all the time, helping us expand our understanding of the crop.”

“With his help, we’re getting better and better at the game.”