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Sustainable practices, long-term benefits.

Sustainable practices, long-term benefits.

2019/20 Season

Owners: Wynn & Tracy Brown
Farm location: Matamata, Eastern Waikato
Herd size: 700
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: P1636 & P1477W

“Maize is a good fit in the sustainable system we strive for, being a low-cost feed and filling those autumn feed gaps well,” Wynn says.

The couple milk 700 cows on a 240 ha milking platform on their family farm near Matamata, with the remainder of the 350 ha property used to raise replacements and grow maize.

This year, the Browns planted 16 ha to Pioneer® P1636 and P1477W and expected a yield of around 25-27 tonnes DM/ha.

As a System 2/3 farm, with rolling contour that is prone to summer dry, they use maize silage as a supplementary feed in summer and autumn to hold body condition on cows and extend lactation.

“We usually plant between 15-20 ha of maize annually, and that’s an ideal amount for us to run a low-cost system and fill in the gaps in autumn,” Wynn says. “If we wanted to add any more maize to our farm system, we would have to lease land, or buy maize in.”

“This is due to our policy of an 8-10 year rotation between crops; as a rolling farm we only have a certain amount of suitably contoured land available for cultivation.”

Caring for soil structure and soil health are major driving factors in the feed decisions the Browns make.

“We were putting maize in the paddock for two years, but we’ve reduced that to one year, to prevent bristle grass from growing and so we can turn over the soil more and get some of the good new grass cultivars in,” Wynn says.

“We have an 8-10 year rotation on paddocks to ensure soil health is optimal.”

“In respect to that, we don’t use power implements on our paddocks either, in order to keep the structure of the ash soil intact. This is key to getting the paddock back into new grass.”

The couple has also been involved with the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR), choosing to grow maize on their effluent paddocks to eliminate the use of base fertiliser.

“Being able to grow low-cost feed is just another component of creating a low-cost system,” Wynn says.

“It comes down to extending our nutrient budget and nutrient cycle as far as possible.”

The care the Browns take to farm sustainably was rewarded in 2018 when they were presented with the inaugural Dairy Industry Responsible Dairy Award.

It has always been Pioneer brand maize for the Browns, and they have worked with Pioneer Area Manager Grant Douglas for a number of years.

Although they are well-experienced in growing maize, Grant’s input is valued and keeps them up to date with cutting-edge maize research, emerging technology, new growing techniques and new hybrids. This ensures they stay at the forefront of what’s possible with their maize crop.

The Browns have also taken part in FAR maize effluent trials, and are watching the Pioneer no-till trials with interest.