Archive: Maize run-off

Published 24 October 14

This page has been archived and no longer updated. more info

Maintaining green cover on maize stubble over winter saves on nitrogen costs

At a recent Maize Growers Association (MGA) council meeting a unanimous decision was taken to encourage all maize growers, MGA members or not, to manage their maize stubbles this winter.

Leaving bare maize stubbles over winter, either on relatively flat or sloping land, increases the risk of soil and/or nutrient loss either via leaching or direct run-off.  

To reduce the risk of soil and or water loss from maize fields, growers should either:

  • Rotate their maize with autumn established crops such as winter cereals/crops or grass leys
  • Follow their maize crop with an autumn established cover crop which could be grazed, cut or incorporated in the spring pre-establishment of next year’s maize crop
  • Roughly cultivate stubbles to be left uncropped

Research in the UK and on the continent confirms that such management will reduce the volumes of water, sediment and nutrient lost to the environment, if the above advice is followed.

Lost soil and nutrient is not only damaging for the environment, but also represents a financial loss. Research suggests that in the region of 40kg of nitrogen, (worth £30/ha*) would be retained if green cover is maintained over winter. 

Free environmental advice for growers

Over 15 years ago, MGA recognised the negative impact inappropriate maize growing can have on the opportunities of farmers who are keen to make the most of this crop. For this reason, MGA offers free advice and information to any grower on the environment sustainability of maize growing. For more information, contact the MGA Office on 01363 775040 or visit the MGA web site.

* Assuming an ammonium nitrate price of £265/tonne