Monday, February 26, 2024

New frontiers of maize growing to be explored at arable conference

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Evolution from precision agriculture to digital agriculture on the agenda.
Job # 1742777 Scott Shearer, CFAES APR-5-2017 The Ohio State University Photo by Kevin Fitzsimons
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Maize growers will have the opportunity to explore and discuss how to build profitable and resilient maize systems at the upcoming Foundation for Arable Research 2024 maize conference.  

The Maize Profit and Productivity conference, to be held in Hamilton on February 12 and 13, will target future challenges for the growing industry as it adapts to future consumer and environmental requirements while retaining profitability.

It may sound daunting, but the message is “don’t be overwhelmed”,  FAR senior maize researcher David Densley said.

The programme will explore how to build profitable and resilient maize systems and will feature international speakers.

It will include an afternoon at FAR’s northern crop research site at Tamahere, near Hamilton, where trial work will be discussed.   

The conference will start with a global view of sustainability and carbon emissions targets being set by food companies such as Nestlé and what this means for New Zealand, and zero in on ways maize growers can adapt to these changes and are doing so.  

On three panels, growers 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 in 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,” Densley said. 

“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.”   

International speakers include Dr Connor Sible, a United States expert on biological options. 

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.   

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. 

The second overseas speaker, Scott Shearer, professor and chair of Food Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Ohio State University, will present via video link, discussing the current and future role of precision agriculture in US maize systems. 

Shearer said farmers are turning to technology to reach their goals.

 “We’ve evolved from precision agriculture to digital agriculture.” 

He will be followed by FAR’s technology manager, Chris Smith, on precision agriculture in NZ maize systems. 

For more information and to register go to

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