Adapting to future consumer and environmental requirements while retaining profitability is one of the key talking points at the Foundation for Arable Research’s 2024 maize conference.
The “Maize Profit and Productivity” conference is on February 12 and 13 at the Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton.
Its programme will explore and discuss how to build profitable and resilient maize systems and will feature international speakers. It will also include an afternoon at FAR’s Northern Crop Research Site at Tamahere, near Hamilton where trial work will be discussed.
FAR senior maize researcher David Densley says the conference will start with a global view of sustainability and carbon emissions targets being set by food companies like Nestle, what this means for New Zealand, and then zero in on ways maize growers can and are adapting to these changes.
Three grower panels will discuss what they are doing on-farm, including developing soils that are more resilient to climate variability, reducing nitrogen fertiliser without compromising profitability, the role of biologicals within the production system and the application of precision agriculture.
“So, these farmers are saying that it may sound daunting, but this is the journey we are on and we are continually refining our production system to make this work for us. The message is don’t be overwhelmed.
"It's a balance of how do I get more profitability, how do I get more resilience in my system and how do I meet environmental requirements,” David Densley says.
International speakers include Dr Connor Sible, a United States expert on biological options. Connor Sible is a post-doctorate research associate at the University of Illinois and works with internationally-renowned maize researcher Professor Fred Below, who attended last year’s FAR maize conference.
Connor Sible’s research focus is plant growth regulators, biologicals and bio-stimulants in maize and soybean cropping systems. His primary focus is working to categorise these products based on their active components and the mode of action designed to create an agricultural advantage, and determine in which situations these products perform best and bring their greatest value to growers. Connor Sible will be in New Zealand for a week as a guest of FAR.
The other overseas speaker, Scott Shearer, professor and chair of Food Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Ohio State University, will present via video link. He will discuss the current and future role of precision agriculture in US maize systems. Scott Shearer says that farmers are turning to technology to reach their goals. “We’ve evolved from precision agriculture to digital agriculture,” he says.
He will be followed by FAR’s technology manager Chris Smith on precision agriculture in New Zealand maize systems.