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Twenty years of maize silage success

Twenty years of maize silage success

2018/19 Season

Owners: David and Maree Stewart
Farm location: Cantebury
Farm size: 190 ha
Herd size: 530
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: P8805, 39T45

“Why change what isn’t broken?” is the philosophy behind the Stewart family’s successful 20 year relationship with Pioneer® brand products.

Milking 530 cows on a 190 ha effective milking platform (219 ha total) and an additional 100 ha leased runoff, the Stewarts run a high producing and complex dairy operation in mid-Canterbury, where maize silage plays a key role.

Two decades ago, when the Stewarts found themselves in a feed shortage and needed a large yield of feed off a small area, maize seemed a perfect fit.

“We’ve never looked back,” David Stewart said. “We’ve grown maize on farm for 20 years now and have never bought it in.”

The Stewarts run a busy farming operation, calving three times a year -July/August (350), Nov/Dec (100), March/April (150) - and run a wintering barn which is also used during the summer months when grass growth drops.

David and Maree Stewart are at the helm of the farming operation, with Mark and Stacey Stewart, TJ Stewart and one additional fulltime staff member offering varying degrees of expertise and on-farm support.

The Stewarts grow between 20-25 ha of maize annually, generally split 50/50 between the milking platform and the runoff.

“The location is dependent on the regrassing rotation,” Mark says.

“We face a few challenges on farm when it comes to growing maize: frost and rain at planting, and the autumn harvest can be affected by the rain once again.”

Despite the challenges the farm yields roughly 20-23 tonnes of maize silage drymatter per year, to which Pioneer® brand silage inoculant is added to improve fermentation and decrease drymatter and nutrient losses.

“This year we are using Pioneer® brand P8805, due to 39T45, the hybrid we’ve used for the last five years, being superseded."

“This year we are hoping to do 25 tDM/ha, which we are on track to do,” Mark says. “Maize consistently yields highly from a small area.”

Yielding an impressive 340,000 kgMS with a winter milk contract (680 kgMS per cow) the Stewarts run a system 5, high-input feeding regime which includes feeding 5-6 kg of maize per cow per day in the barn over the months of May to October.
The maize gets mixed with grass silage, lucerne silage, palm kernel, peas, and soya mix plus minerals; this goes through the mixer wagon to be fed twice a day.

“Pioneer maize silage is a consistently high quality feed, and the cows love it and milk really well off it,” Mark says.

“It really helps the winter milkers to maintain weight over the winter period.”

Pioneer South Canterbury Area Manager Daryl Moore says the Stewarts are highly respected farmers.

“They grow high-yielding, good quality crops on farm, using effluent to reduce costs and to be environmentally friendly,” Daryl says.

David says Daryl has become a great asset to their maize growing.

“Daryl is available for questions, help and up-to-date information about the latest advances in maize – he gets the best for us,” David says.

“We have been with Pioneer for 20 years and they haven’t let us down, so why change what isn’t broken?”