New maize trials underway

FAR general manager – research, development and extension, Dr Andrew Pitman. Photo: supplied.

The 2020 maize trials for the Foundation of Arable Research have managed to more or less stay on-track despite the knock-on effect of the Covid-19 Level 4 March lockdown, says FAR general manager – research, development and extension, Andrew Pitman.

“After a number of silage harvests were missed, and following a delay in the harvest of the grain crops, we were late to get the Maize Performance Programme Booklet out, but we got there.

“We were lucky to come out of lockdown when we did as our cover crop trials were also due to be planted and we were largely able to achieve that.”

And so 2020 sees the continuation of trials started in previous years, and the start of several new projects.

Year one of a four-year project for understanding yield potential in maize will compare information from existing trial results and actual yield records from harvesters, grain companies etc to commercially-promoted yields. This will identify key factors influencing yield and profitability in New Zealand maize systems.

Trials will then be developed to demonstrate how combining best practice management approaches can enhance profitability rather than yield. This includes the use of an updated version of the AmaizeN tool that can be used to estimate nitrogen (N) fertiliser needs, based on realistic yield targets.

Year one of a five-year trial will compare the N-Use-Efficiency (NUE) of maize grain and silage systems in the Waikato to improve understanding of the utility of the NUE indicator for informing N management decisions, compliance requirements and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reporting across arable crops.

A related two-year project will bring together a group of farmers as maize nitrogen managers to assess whether the NUE indicator is practical for farmers to implement for nitrogen management, and for reporting as part of their Farm Environmental Plans.

Andrew particularly mentioned a herbicide resistance survey in maize crops. “In some of our regions, we’ve noticed widespread resistance to herbicide in rye grass, which is a key part of the maize rotation cycle.

“So we are looking to address this issue by surveying maize paddocks in North Island systems.”

This survey will inform ongoing weed management research being conducted by AgResearch and FAR using cover crops.

A three-year project to enhance stover breakdown during winter and early-spring to aid direct drilling establishment of both cover crops and maize in a continuous maize system, is designed to offer practical results and guidelines for maize grain production, incorporating various cover crops during winter.


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