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Five steps to increase forage maize yield and quality

By: Nigel Hester

Here are a series of five simple steps that will help to optimise maize nutrition so you can maximise yield and quality.


Five steps to increase forage maize yield and quality
Five steps to increase forage maize yield and quality

How to prepare for a successful maize crop

Here are a series of five simple steps that will help to optimise maize nutrition. Following these five steps will help identify any limiting factors and allow a robust crop nutrition programme to be prepared. This will maximise the yield and quality of your forage maize crop.

1. Conduct a broad spectrum soil analysis

Plan ahead and undertake a broad spectrum soil analysis now for your maize crop. 

The a broad spectrum soil analysis provides information on: P, K, Ca, Mg, S, B, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn, Na, CEC, pH and gives a lime recommendation.

This will give a full picture of the soil nutrition status and allow you to identify any possible issues early on before any deficiencies occur.

 Read more on the benefits of a broad spectrum soil analysis

Broad spectrum soil analysis

2. Optimise soil pH to increase nutrient availability

Most soils have an optimum pH of 6.5-7 which will ensure good nutrient availability

Phosphorus in particular is affected by pH and soil temperature, and foliar P in the early stages of establishment may be beneficial. 

Read more on how phosphate influences the yield of forage maize

Effect of soil pH on nutrient availability

3. Conduct a manure analysis

The nutrient content of organic manures can vary widely and sending off a representative sample for analysis will provide valuable information.

Accurately and evenly apply organic manures at your target application rate.

A basic organic manure solid or liquid test includes N, P, K, Mg and DM.

A complete organic manure solid or liquid test includes N, P, K, Mg, DM, pH, Cu, Zn, S, Ca, ammonium and nitrate N.

 Read more on the benefits of a manure or slurry analysis

Manure analysis report

4. Implement a nutrient management plan

Undertake a Nutrient Management Plan with a FACTS Qualified Advisor.

Maize is a crop with a high nutrient demand which can be met from organic manures and solid and foliar fertilisers. Build a Nutrient Management Plan using the results from soil analysis and if available organic inputs to fully account for nutrients in manures.

Fertilisers should be used to balance any nutrient shortfall.

 Read more on the benefits of nutrient planning in maize

Maize NMP Report

5. Conduct a broad spectrum leaf analysis

When the maize crop is growing undertake a Broad Spectrum leaf analysis.

This will give a snap shot of the crop’s nutritional status and guide a decision on the need for foliar application of essential nutrients.

Availability of nutrient in the soil to the plant can be influenced by temperature, pH, compaction, organic matter content and water content. Foliar crop nutrition can help keep plants growing during periods of limited uptake of nutrients from the soil.

This test provides information on: N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, B, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn.

 Read more on the benefits of leaf analysis

Broad spectrum leaf analysis

Grass and forage agronomy and fertiliser advice
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