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Rural Diary
1 August 2018 External Supplier

Fodder beet a fit for late lactation

Gaining and maintaining Body Condition Score (BCS) pre-winter is a primary focus for dairy farmer, Mike Sales. Fodder beet on the platform has proved a valuable tool as a late lactation feed, which has enabled the farm to improve BCS whilst increasing milk production toward the end of the season.

Mike is a joint equity manager, milking 1,200 cows on a 408 hectare property at Patoka in Hawke’s Bay. The farm has been using fodder beet in the system for the past four years, and through trial and error, has found its best fit on-farm as a late lactation feed.

“The first year we wintered on with beet, but found that didn’t fit our system and we were better off wintering the cows off farm,” Mike explains. The past two years they have used it as a supplementary feed in April and May following summer turnips. Mike has been able to increase milksolid production without compromising BCS. “It also fits our system practically this way, no double handling like you get with maize”.

With advice from PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative, Warren Johnson, nine hectares of Jamon fodder beet were precision sown last October, where an average yield of 28 t DM per ha was measured. The farm had used Jamon in previous years, achieving outstanding yields with a good leaf percentage which is important as it is grazed in situ.

Once transitioned, they feed a maximum of four kilograms of beet per cow per day along with four kilograms of PKE: biscuit meal mix (through the in-shed feed system) and ten kilograms of grass. Mike takes a patient and thorough approach to transitioning, and as a result has lost no cows on fodder beet. The cows begin with 20 minutes on the crop each day and allocation is slowly increased by five minutes per day until they reach their maximum allocation of four kilograms. This is generally about 45 minutes before they are then moved onto grass.

Only the twice-a-day milkers are fed fodder beet (800 cows) whereas the remainder are once-a-day for the entire season and are not allocated any beet. “We’ve found it easier to achieve our target BCS of 4.2 to 4.4 at dry-off since using fodder beet, but we are seeing the biggest benefits in the vat,” says Mike. “We love fodder beet here, it’s well suited to our system”.

Although they were achieving similar dry-off BCS pre-beet, this came at a cost of total production using a larger area of turnips and higher in-shed feeding, as well as going to once-a-day milking earlier. Now with the introduction of fodder beet, milk production has increased as the cows are able to milk twice a day all the way through, without compromising BCS. Mike has found that very long break fences are the key to achieving a uniform BCS across all cows.

The milk quality has also improved, with the milksolid percentage increasing from around 8.8 percent pre-beet to over 10.0 percent with beet in the diet. Fodder beet is a very high quality feed source with Metabolisable Energy (ME) values in the bulb above 14 MJME and soluble sugars between 55 to 70 percent on average.

For more information on Jamon fodder beet, contact your local PGG Wrightson representative.

Supplied by Agricom

External Supplier

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Stimulate growth with nitrogen

01 August 2018

Applying nitrogen fertiliser in a liquid form is a convenient way of applying nitrogen to crops or pastures.

Liquid N
Liquid N is suitable for a wide range of farm types, including pastoral, arable and horticultural systems. Liquid N is a solution, not a suspension, which means that the nitrogen component is fully dissolved in the water and there is no particulate matter to clog nozzles or sprayers during application.

Liquid fertiliser is an important ‘tool’ that allows farmers to apply significant amounts of nitrogen and other important elements strategically within a growing season. Understanding the fertiliser formulations and their relative strengths and weaknesses enables farmers to utilise the products available to them to maximise productivity. Knowledge of available application methods and ideal environmental conditions for uptake also enables the best chance of success with Liquid N products.

Liquid fertilisers are widely used throughout the world, with nitrogen being the most commonly applied major nutrient in liquid form. Liquid N can be used in various scenarios:

  • As a post-grazing nitrogen source to boost pasture growth.
  • To build your feed wedge.

Apply to high-value pastures to grow more dry matter to ensure sufficient feed is available both before and after lambing and calving. Apply to pastures that are being shut up for conserved feed. Use as a multi-nutrient foliar option for crops that need an application of nitrogen, with other nutrients to stimulate growth and drive yield. Use as a foliar feed on grain crops to promote late nitrogen uptake and to increase grain protein levels.

A wide range of other products, fertilisers and fungicides can be mixed with Liquid N and applied at the same time. It is really important to seek advice about their compatibility before mixing any products.

Gibberellic acid
Liquid N can be applied with gibberellic acid. Gibberellins are plant hormones that activate dormant enzyme systems. Applied to pasture, they can stimulate out-of-season growth or accelerate growth through reserve mobilisation, leaf and stem elongation, and promotion of flowering.

Gibberellic acid can be used as a potential pasture production stimulant, and is applied to increase winter and spring pasture production or to manipulate seasonality of production. Decisions on gibberellin use should be based on understanding the physiological action of gibberellins. The most useful time to apply gibberellic acid is in late winter (immediate mobilisation of stored reserves) and spring (acceleration of stem and leaf elongation growth and therefore increased herbage availability to animals). Be aware that in some species, such as chicory, the acid may cause premature flowering or other unwanted side effects.

Gibberellins have the potential to decrease tillering above ground and root production below ground. To amend these negative effects, gibberellin application should be restricted to pastures where prior management has resulted in adequate energy reserves and good mineral nutrition status and by applying nitrogen fertiliser with gibberellic acid to assist in amending side effects. To minimise stress on pastures and to avoid negative effects, the lower the rate of application, the better.

For more information on liquid N supplementation, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.


Selecting the right hybrid is critical

01 August 2018

When preparing to plant maize, ensuring you have selected the right hybrid is crucial. There are a number of factors to consider when selecting a hybrid best suited to your growing region and specifically for your farm. 

The first question you need to ask is ‘when can I plant and when can I harvest my crop?’ This helps establish the range of hybrids that will fit within your growing time frame. The next step is to understand the challenges your growing environment has; do you expect to have significant wind during the growing season, particularly nearing harvest time? Is the local area subject to any diseases such as rust or Northern Leaf Blight (NLB), and do you have any specific fertility or drainage challenges that need to be addressed prior to planting? These questions help narrow down the hybrid that is best suited to your unique growing environment.

From time to time the weather doesn’t help our planning and delays are caused at planting through wet soils. If you have chosen your hybrid and this happens, you may need to consult with your agronomy team to choose another hybrid that fits the shorter growing time that has occurred. Corson Maize has a range of hybrids that can meet your requirements if this situation arises. 
The Corson Maize and PGG Wrightson agronomy teams work together to assist maize growers in choosing the right hybrid for their farm. A recent example of this was on Waipuna Station, where Corson Maize Sales Agronomist, Mike Turner worked alongside PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative, Mark Arrandale and PGG Wrightson Grain Area Manager, Russell Hayes in supporting Farm Manager, John Kaati in his maize decisions.

John grows maize for grain as he has found this to be a profitable option for Waipuna Station. Waipuna station is located 50 km west of Otorohanga, close to Kawhia on the west coast of the North Island. Across the 800 ha of land, John grew 54 ha of maize this season planting the hybrids Afinity and N51-N4. Both hybrids are ‘dual-purpose’ which means they can be used for maize silage or maize grain end uses. The hybrids were treated with Poncho® Votivo, to ensure the young maize plants were protected from a range of insects and Avipel® to protect the seedlings from bird attack.
Both hybrids, Afinity and N51-N4, were well suited to the growing environment at Waipuna Station. Their length of maturity was the perfect fit for the growing season available. Other challenges included the coastal winds which meant that a hybrid with excellent plant stalk and root strength had to be chosen. This was improved by ensuring the right populations were planted (92,000 seeds per ha). Too high a population and the plants would become tall and thin and not able to stand in the winds they would be exposed too, which could affect their harvest ability. Both hybrids also have very good tolerance to NLB, which is a known challenge in this region and a very important factor in the hybrids selected. 

John was impressed with the average yield from his maize of 14.1 T DM per ha. “Putting the right hybrid in the right paddock is critical and this paid off with both Afinity and N51-N4 performing very well,” says John. He was also very happy with the joint support provided saying “I was provided with excellent support from Corson Maize and PGG Wrightson when it came to maize agronomy decisions, which led to the correct hybrid selection.”

Selecting the right hybrids does not have to be complicated and the PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representatives and Corson Maize Sales Agronomists are on hand to assist you with maize agronomy decisions.  

Corson Maize now offers a wider range of hybrids having incorporated the Pacific Seeds range into their portfolio to provide an even better choice of hybrids when making selections. 

Contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative to find out more about Corson Maize Seed hybrids and gain help with hybrid selection for this coming maize season.

Supplied by Corson Maize Seed

Protect your spring sown crops

01 August 2018

Metarex Inov all-weather slug and snail bait has proven itself to be a critical part of an overall slug management programme to protect a wide range of spring sown crops. 

Slug populations can devastate spring sown crops. Maize and brassica seedlings in particular are extremely vulnerable in their early growth stages. New Zealand trials have consistently shown Metarex to outperform clay coated bait alternatives. 

Metarex is known for its ‘attract and kill’ mode of action, which provides farmers a highly effective bait with excellent longevity characteristics under wet conditions that doesn’t see the bait fall apart in the first shower of rain. It contains the proven active ingredient metaldehyde, in a homogenous blend throughout the bait, which causes irreversible damage to the mucus cells of slugs and snail. The secret to performance is in the unique wet manufacturing process, which results in a durum wheat based bait that is rainfast and highly palatable to slugs and snails. This gives both the ‘attract and kill’ feature as well as its direct contact action. 

Metarex is also Integrated Pest Management (IPM) friendly. The safety to beneficial insects and earthworms allows beneficial insects such as carabid beetles to lend a helping hand for a sustainable integrated pest control programme. The low use rates also provide advantages around storage and ease of handling and application.

Excellent bait ballistics, uniform spreading, high number of bait points and the no dust, no hassle spreading features makes for an effective and user friendly option to combat slug or snail problems.

Contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative to find out more.

Supplied byUPL

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