Improving Maize Practices
Management over winter provides multiple benefits
Maize receives a lot of bad press, however, it is an essential crop for many farm businesses in the Wye. In order to ensure it does not impact negatively on local watercourses there are several simple techniques which can be implemented to protect your soil.
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Partnership approach in the Wye
In 2016 the Wye & Usk Foundation and Field Options sought funding from Dwr Cymru Welsh Water to build a precision drill to improve the accuracy of undersowing maize. Local contractor Roy Price sourced the tool bar and coulters from weaving and constructed the inter-row drill.
This technique has multiple benefits:
As well as qualifying for Ecological Focus Areas and compliance with GAEC 4 & 5 requirements it helps to retain soil nutrients, reduces soil erosion by improving soil structure with an active root mass, builds fertility, builds organic matter and widens the harvest window.
How much does it cost?
The cost is inclusive of seed and the drilling service and is on average £30/acre. Thanks to support from Dwr Cymru Welsh Water the Wye & Usk Foundation are able to offer a grant of £5/ac off the total cost during 2016 and 2017.
Profitability as well as Sustainability
The grass can yield 3t of Dry Matter per hectare. This can provide a valuable winter-spring grazing opportunity with >1,500 ewe grazing days/ha or >300 heifer grazing days/ha. For full details including seed rates, seed choices, herbicide interactions and costs
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Didn’t get a chance to undersow? Make sure to cultivate across slopes after harvest!
If maize stubbles are left over winter without undersowing they should be cultivated at intervals across the slope to reduce runoff.