The perfect cover crop for maize

The maize crop is becoming increasingly popular in Denmark. The plant is high-yielding and can be used both as biomass for biogas production and as animal fodder. Maize does give a problem with subsequent leaching of nitrogen from bare harvested fields in the autumn, therefore scientists at Aarhus University are searching for a cover crop that can work together with the maize and also capture nitrogen. This is not a simple task as maize grows fast  and tall which shades out any other crop. It might look very peaceful with a dual crop of maize and for instance ryegrass, but in reality it is a battle of life and death between them. Hopefully it will end with a peaceful co-existence, explains senior scientist at Aarhus University, Elly Møller Hansen. In a video explaining the research, conducted on a 41 year old field experiment at Jyndevad Research Station. The experiment looked at the residual effects of various soil tillage methods, this was co-financed by EU through the European Regional Development Fund. Among the other crops that scientists were looking include clover, grasses, fodder radish and winter rape. The purpose being quite clear: “our aim is to improve nitrogen uptake in cover crops in maize by up to 10-20kg per hectare, compared with current practise and therefore reducing nitrogen leaching by around 20kg  per hectare,” say Hansen.

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