Ian Anderson, of Nar Nar Goon, VIC, inspecting corn used as silage to form a major part of his dairy cow diet.
|Farm location:||Nar Nar Goon, VIC|
Inoculant that reduces the time between the harvest and feeding out of corn silage has been welcomed by dairy farmer, Ian Anderson, from Nar Nar Goon, in the Gippsland region of Victoria.
Mr Anderson has been growing corn for 22 years and uses it as a mainstay in the diet as the dairy cows transition from dry to miking through autumn and early winter.
As part of that transition some of the corn is direct chopped and fed to the cows prior to the silage being harvested and ensiled.
“I will normally leave the stack closed for two to three weeks before using the silage,” Mr Anderson said. “This year Pioneer came out with the new inoculant where I can feed out in just seven days. That will be a great tool going forward.”
Pioneer® brand 11C33 with Rapid React® aerobic stability technology provides stable feed in just seven days.
Mr Anderson said he opened the stack nine days after ensiling and it provided the opportunity to feed earlier and not rely so much on the direct-chop in the early stages of the transition period.
“It provides flexibility to make decisions on the run.”
He said inoculant was now used every year on the property.
“The base of the stack remains more stable and we don’t have the rate of decay we had before using inoculant. It minimises spoilage.”
“Sometimes we are not harvesting at the optimum time so inoculant provides greater flexibility at harvest.”
In the one season inoculant wasn’t used, the stack collapsed more and there was visibly more spoilage.
Mr Anderson said corn was an important part of the dairy cow diet and each year he would grow between 15 and 18 hectares on the property. He milks 250 cows off 120 hectares.
In the early days corn silage yields of 22 to 24 dry matter tonnes per hectare were aimed at and achieved, and in more recent times that has increased.
“I now aim at 30 tonnes of dry matter per hectare and in the last few years have achieved 31 and 32 tonnes per hectare.”
“It’s about learning from every season that I’ve grown. You’ve got to get all the one percenters right.”
Each year the crop is planted from early to mid-November at a rate of 88,000 to 90,000 seeds per hectare.”
Both mid-season and early season corn hybrids are used with the quicker maturity option direct-chopped in the autumn.
Pioneer® hybrid 9400 has been the quicker option used successfully in recent years and Pioneer® P1070 as a longer season option.
P1070 has now been superseded and Mr Anderson said he would look for the best replacement going forward as the preferred mid-season option.
Fowl manure has become an integral part of the corn program each year with more than 20 metres per hectare applied prior to planting.
“It is a great source of nitrogen, phosphorous and organic matter and also slowly releases,” Mr Anderson said. “Manure is part of the cultivation process and worked into the soil.”
Potash is also applied prior to planting.
DAP at sowing is the last fertiliser applied to the crop with irrigation water the only other input through the season.
Mr Anderson said if he can get the crop established to a height of one foot, weed free and at a good plant population then he is virtually guaranteed success.
“I just have to keep the moisture up to it.”
Corn silage is used in the dairy through early autumn and helps the transition from dry to milking.
“When the diet doesn’t change it also has benefits with a reduction in milk fever and metabolic problems,” Mr Anderson said. “It takes the stress off me and off the cows.”
He said a corn silage also acted as a buffer on colder days where more of the forage was fed to the cows to minimise any reduction in milk yield.
High yields from the silage have meant the corn can be utilised right through until grass silage and also adds flexibility with the pastures grown on the property.
Typically, perennial ryegrasses and clover provide feed options from winter through to summer and the use of corn in the diet allows grasses to be shut up and ensiled at the right time to maximise quality.
Mr Anderson said as long as he can keep corn silage in the diet he will and, in some years, has even had carryover leading into autumn.
Corn also provides options around the farm and will be typically used as a pasture renovation tool.
A ryegrass paddock will be rotated through to one or two crops of corn before being planted back to grass.
An annual ryegrass will also be grown in between the corn crops providing grazing and silage options through the winter and early spring period.
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