7 July 1995

Lack of aid fails to halt maize growth

By Philip Clarke

MAIZE plantings have continued to expand despite the lack of area aid for this years crop.

Following last years English base area overshoot and the consequent 67% set-aside penalty, few growers will have claimed aid this season. But recent figures compiled by the Maize Agents Association suggest a 21% increase on last year to 114,000ha (290,000 acres).

"Research has shown that using maize silage offers clear financial benefits in terms of increased margin over purchased feed – with or without aid," said Maize Growers Association chief executive Dr David Thomson.

Quoting from the recent Milk Development Council report, Mixed Forage Diets for Dairy Cows, he pointed to maize silage adding £140 a cow to margins. This was based on a diet of 67% grass silage and 33% alternative forage compared with a pure grass silage diet – although all diets in the trial included 6kg a cow a day concentrates.

Increasing the maize silage to 75% of the diet gave a third more margin than the straight grass silage option.

The secret of maizes success lay in the extra milk solids it generated, said MGA chairman Gordon Newman.

Having advised the associations 1660 members not to claim area aid this year, he expected full support to be reinstated next year, leading to further expansion in the area.