Sunflowers edging a large field of maize are turning heads on Rapanui Rd, near Whanganui.

There are more of them across the Davison family's dairy farm too - sprinkled through fields of turnips grown as a fodder crop for the cows.

Chris and Rachel Davison bought 16kg of sunflower seeds last year.

The seeds are usually used to feed pet birds. But Chris Davison had seen sunflowers growing in the United States. He was there in 2010, following the ripening wheat north across the continent.

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This year sunflowers edge maize grown on the Davison farm for silage, and are sprinkled across fields of turnips as well. The Davisons planted them "to brighten up farming life".

Chris Davison knows their herd of 1000 dairy cows will enjoy eating the plants.

"Cows really love them. It puts a shine on their coats."

Rapanui Rd is busy, with people heading for Kai Iwi Beach in the hottest days of summer. Rachel Davison hears them slowing as they near the corner by Bason Botanic Gardens and take in the sight of the sunflowers.

It could help slow people who are speeding, she said.

Her husband said there's another advantage.

"It diverts people's attention from all the thistles."