Navigate the diversification maize to boost farm profitability 22 Jun 2015

With demand strong and export opportunities on the rise, maize could be the next winner for Australian farmers.

Featured on the website, the well-known food staple is consumed by billions of people world-wide. This offers Australian growers an attractive diversification opportunity and a chance to tap into a high demand market.

The Maize Association of Australia CEO, Liz Mann said unlike other field crops that are potentially climate sensitive, maize can be grown Australia-wide.

“Maize production is unique compared to other field crops in Australia because it has the widest geographical spread; growing from tropical North Queensland, down to Victoria and Tasmania, and across to the Northern Territory and the southern regions of Western Australia,” Ms Mann said.

“It hardiness and its potential for higher returns in comparison to some other traditionally grown crops makes it a perfect addition for those who are thinking of branching out and diversifying from their current cycle of crops.”

NSW farmer John Bruce decided to diversify his cropping operations almost two years ago, adding maize to his existing crops. 

While the additional crop helps boost his income, the decision to diversify into maize was influenced by his access to water, the need to maximise his land assets better and access to reliable local markets.

“They call maize the recipe crop because it’s very easy to grow, however it is critical that it’s planted properly,” Mr Bruce said. “It doesn't compensate like other crops so if you don’t have good crop emergence because of poor sowing techniques or other factors you are costing yourself yield.”

He said while returns can vary, growers should be able to – at a minimum – double the money they invested in growing the crop. 

“We grow our maize on flood irrigation so it is quite labour intensive as opposed to rice which we also grow, but it is a very ‘feel-good’ crop and the return on investment is very good,” Mr Bruce said.

He said the new addition of maize compliments his current cycle of crops with only a slight overlap come harvest time when it’s time to sow the winter crops.

“I now have to employ someone during the busy April-May period but it’s definitely worth it,” he said. “More fingers in the pie reduce the financial risk – but you need to do your homework and find out what will work for you.

“It’s important to take the time to plant maize properly and make sure your numbers stack up. If you can't make it work on paper there’s a good chance it won’t work in the paddock – but get the figures right and maize is a great addition to winter crops."