Empty Fields, 2020 Purchased Starch Costs, Why Not Grow More Maize?

Spring maybe a few months away but planning is an essential ingredient for performance. With the rain disrupting cereal and wheat plantings, cereal tonnage nationally will be down. This will disrupt home grown starch sources and increase starch energy prices. Many growers are likely to shift to maize in the spring to ensure DM tonnes of forage as opposed to spring barley/wheat which will produce less DM tonnes and less starch, whilst also making use of unplanted ground. Growing more maize/acre is a way to reduce reliance on purchased feed, reliance on purchased starch and the likely associated cost increase.

The table above demonstrates the costs per hectare/acre of renting, growing, harvesting and ensiling maize on farmland. This enables us to work out the cost per tonne of growing this maize silage. It works on the following assumptions:

*Rental/Grade 2+ soil
**not subsoiling whole field just compacted areas – wheeling’s/gateways.
***some soils like grade one, green sand would use less establishment costs.
****Likely to swap for FYM, slurry and muck spreading on most dairy units. Use DAP next to seed.
*****Silage Additive – Acid + Salts
******Includes silage pit cost, sheets, sheeting down, cling film.

Fertiliser values used instead of muck in order to apply a muck value. Tonnes are in fresh weight/acre based on 33% DM maize silage.

As we can see the input costs decrease as grown tonnes increase ranging from £27.53 (20t/ac) to £43.46 (12t/ac) which is a £15.93 swing in cost per tonne. If we assumed that this farmer needed 600tonne of maize silage he would need a further 20acres at 12t/ac. This would also cost a further £9,558 and reduce his available acres for growing other income/forages by 20 acres.

The likelihood is some of these costs were not applied (i.e. subsoiling, insufficient crop nutrition) meaning amounts of fresh/dry matter produced were lower. A rental and storage cost are also important to apply, whilst measuring DM correctly is important in order not to overestimate supply. Oven dry matter tests are a cheap and effective way to measure dry matter.

If you would like advice on cropping plans for 2020 with forage costs and quality in mind, then please contact Wesley at wesleyhabershon@fcgagric.com, or your local FCG Office.

Posted in Arable & Crops, Business Management, Chippenham, Dairy & Forage.