Popping corns secrets

Author: Tom Dixon | Date: 04 May 2015

2015 research updates

GRDC GrowNotes show the way for maize

Maize production in the northern grain belt has entered a new era with the recent launch of GRDC’s online GrowNote for maize.

The recently released maize GrowNote is the latest in the series being developed for all the northern region’s most important grain crops.

Maize is a multipurpose summer cereal, grain and silage crop that serves as a good rotation crop with legumes and cotton. Although considered a minor summer crop, it has very attractive characteristics such as a low capital investment, low growing risk and generally a longer window of harvest than other crops.

The industry yields for maize are around 350,000–450,000 tonnes, and are valued between $25-$35 million annually, depending upon prices, area planted, and yields.

The Maize GrowNote is derived from over 20 years of research and extension work that has been facilitated by industry, and funded by organisations like GRDC. It will provide growers with a comprehensive one-stop shop for technical information, and will allow readers to investigate this content in as much detail as and when they require.

GrowNotes are a major initiative for GRDC, and are available for several northern region crops, including sorghum, sunflowers, faba beans, chickpeas, wheat and durum, and barley.

A ‘one-stop-shop’ for Maize production advice

The Maize GrowNote provides a thorough overview of the crop, offering all of the key research that has been done on maize in Australia. Growers are also given access to the latest agronomic information, backed up with northern region trial results and best-practice recommendations, enabling them to make informed and timely management decisions and boost their farm profitability.

All of the content in the GrowNote is linked back to original studies with hyperlinks throughout the document, allowing growers and agronomists to ‘drill down’ even further on the technical data.

If, for example, a grower found information on trials for sowing time, they would be able to click through to the original research papers, see the original research findings, and make decisions based on these.

“From plant populations and row spacing, through to crop nutrition, spray rates, harvest management and marketing, the GrowNotes offer something for everyone,” says GRDC Northern Panel chair, James Clark.

Grower communication key for GRDC

“GRDC actively listens to and values the feedback from growers and advisors,” says Mr Clark. “It’s helped shape the organisation’s investment in grains research, development and extension over the past 20 years which has generated a mass of information from research data and findings, most of which remains relevant today,” he says.

It is this close communication with growers and agronomists that brought about the advent of Grow Notes, with all parties wanting to access information in a single, key document.

“These outcomes have traditionally been communicated to industry via media and annual GRDC events like the GRDC Updates for Growers and Advisors,” says Mr Clark.

“While these remain fundamental communication channels, the digital age has provided us with new technologies like digital publishing and mobile applications which enable GRDC to communicate important research information more often and more effectively, and this is where GrowNotes come into their own,” he says.

Local, timely information

"Feedback indicates that growers want more specific information, tailored to their area, in a format they can easily access,” says GRDC’s Regional Grower Services Manager for the northern region, Sharon O'Keeffe.

With this in mind, the GrowNotes have been designed as online flip-books which are easy to navigate, and can always be at the fingertips of growers anytime of the day or night.

The digital nature of the notes also means the content can be updated as soon as new research information comes to hand.

"The modules will be updated annually to ensure growers can get the most up-to-date advice,” says Ms O'Keeffe.

The GRDC, in partnership with industry, is continually striving to raise the production bar and deliver meaningful, tangible research benefits to growers.

Mr Clark says the GRDC northern region panel looks forward to continuing to listen and facilitate dialogue between all sectors of the industry, and in the process, helping to drive a dynamic and profitable future for all stakeholders.

Know before you grow—fast facts on maize

Historically, most maize was consumed domestically, but with the help of the Maize Association of Australia (MAA) a new export market has been opened up to farmers and traders.

Maize produced in Australia is approximately 50% rain grown or dryland, and 50% is grown under irrigation. All Australian maize is non genetically-modified (GM).

Growers looking to get into maize as a rotation crop are advised to:

  • Organise marketing contracts before planting. Growers should discuss specific quality requirements with end users when negotiating contracts. Human consumption market sectors have strict specifications that must be met.
  • Plant hybrids that have the desired characteristics for your conditions.
  • Plant at the optimum time to avoid early frosts, extreme heat at flowering and cool, slow dry down.
  • Set a target yield based on moisture availability and match inputs to the target. Maize is less tolerant of moisture stress than other summer crops such as grain sorghum.
  • Plant inland dryland crops when there is at least one metre depth of wet soil.
  • For irrigated crops calculate water budgets, matching the crop area to water allocation. Do not plan to stretch irrigation intervals in order to increase crop area, in particular from just prior to tasselling to the start of the milk line stage.
  • Always use press wheels at planting.
  • Adjust plant population and row spacing according to the target yield.
  • Apply nitrogen, phosphate and potassium fertiliser based on target yields, soil tests and/or previous crop yields.
  • Use controlled traffic farming with no-till to reduce soil compaction (maize is relatively susceptible to compaction), improve moisture storage and reduce fuel costs.

Further Information

GRDC Project Code SMB00001

Region North