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Organic maize a key element in Hastings farming operation

Organic maize a key element in Hastings farming operation

2018/19 Season

Owners: Mike Glazebrook
Farm location: Hastings
Farm size: 1200 ha
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: P0725, P1253

A Hawke’s Bay farming operation is certainly not short on feathers in its cap – and the potential to become an authority in the future of the organic maize industry.

Te Tua Station Ltd, owned by Mike Glazebrook and located in Hastings, is a diverse operation comprising 300 ha of maize, squash, sweetcorn, tomatoes and beetroot, with an additional 900 ha of lambs, bull beef and Wagyu beef.

Pioneer® maize is an integral part of the cropping operation, and going forward, organic maize for grain will play an even larger part.

The farm has been growing maize for 12 years, and in 2016 made its first move into organic maize to fill a customer requirement.

“Fortunately, that fit perfectly with the farm and composting business, BioRich Ltd,” Te Tua Station Ltd Operations Manager Nigel Halpin says.

Currently, 68 ha of organic maize (Pioneer® P0725) for chicken feed is supplied to Bostock’s organic free-range chickens. An additional 55 ha is currently in conversion to organics, for a new organic maize market yet to be established.

Another 80 ha is earmarked for conversion to organics starting winter 2018.

“We have the potential for a 200 ha organic maize operation,” Nigel says.

An additional 80 ha of conventional maize, Pioneer® hybrid P1253, is also grown for domestic supply for making Mexicano brand corn chips.

Nigel, who oversees the farm and is supported by Farm Manager Darren Burns, says they chose to grow maize for grain because it fits well with the land class.

“It is a sustainable monocrop, where soil fertility is continuing to grow in the newly established river silt country,” Nigel says.

“On heavy country, the flexibility of when to plant and harvest the maize crop helps look after soils.”

Soil improvement is also congruent to maximising grain yield.

“We are seeing slight but steady improvement in the yield, but the main thing is we are not having big swings in yield; our results are consistent,” Nigel says.

Another contributing factor to maintaining healthy soils and great yields is using BioRich certified organic compost on the organic maize cropping land: BioRich Ltd partners with Te Tua Station Ltd to grow BioGro organic maize.

Also owned by Mike Glazebrook, BioRich Ltd handles 50,000 tonnes of organic waste annually and supplies home gardens through to horticulturalists in Hawke’s Bay and Bay of Plenty with input for apples, beans, beetroot, grapes, kiwifruit, onions, maize, tomatoes and more.

Pioneer® brand products Area Manager Simon Begley and Pioneer Agronomy Manager Dr. Rowland Tsimba have been instrumental in analysing maize performance with Nigel and Darren.

“We’ve completed timely field walks looking at establishment, mid-season nutrition, and yield assessment pre-harvest,” Simon says.

“We actively look for areas for economic yield improvement.”

Nigel says prior to the field walks, they took growing maize lightly.

“However, with attention to detail we have improved the reliability of our seasonal yields,” he says.

“It’s very important to have a good relationship with your maize company, in terms of advice, support and success.

“And the importance of choosing a tested and proven hybrid, such as Pioneer hybrids, goes without saying.”