Undersowing in maize

Soil and water protection supported by the federal states

THE AIMS OF UNDERSOWING IN MAIZE ARE:

  • Protection against erosion
  • Improving the condition of the soil and
  • its ability to bear crops
  • Fixing nutrients
  • Building up humus
  • If applicable

Undersowing in maize is a tried and tested method of protecting the soil and preventing erosion.
Red fescue, cocksfoot, perennial ryegrass and Italian ryegrass are suitable types of grasses.
Red fescue is a slowgrowing plant which can be sown at the same time as maize or until it has reached its maximum height. Cocksfoot and perennial ryegrass are sown when maize plants have between two and six leaves. Fast-growing Italian ryegrass should not be sown until the maize is at least 30 cm tall.
Sowing rates and methods are shown in the table. One of the easiest methods is to apply coated seed to land on which maize is already growing by a manure spreader or slug pellet spreader. This method is accurate and allows a large area of land to be sown. Another option is to sow the seed in the fermentation residue/ slurry required that is applied to the standing maize crop by a drag hose slurry spreader. If seed is sown by drilling, only three rows should be sown between the rows of maize. The seed costs can be more than offset by a single successful application as a result of higher yields from the follow-on crop.
Field beans: Undersowing is also possible in this crop. Please contact us if you have any questions: we would be delighted to advise you.

Undersowing in cereals

Most grasses and clovers, and mixtures of these plants, are suitable for undersowing in cereals. Modern cereal varieties are very stable and not prone to lodging. This reduces the chance of the undersown plants regrowing in subsequent years. Undersowing is common when plants are being grown for seed production.
The required know-how is present. Undersowing has a number of benefits in the context of crop rotation. Firstly, it protects against erosion and improves the ability of the soil to bear crops, and secondly it helps to protect groundwater (regional aid may be available).
The undersown crop has more time to grown once the main crop has been harvested for silaging.
The lower seed costs are a benefit from a financial point of view, and this approach also spreads the workload more evenly. The plants can be cut once a year. The aim of undersowing is to profit from growth after the main crop has been harvested for silaging.
A well-established undersown crop will start to emerge as soon as the main crop has been harvested, as light can now reach the young grass plants so that they immediately start to grow. Newly sown crops will take 14 days longer.
Highly competitive species such as Italian ryegrass, perennial ryegrass and hybrid ryegrass are suitable for spring sowing. Cocksfoot, red or white clover and mixtures of these plants can also be sown.
Seed can be sown into existing plants by either a drill or a manure spreader. The table below contains information about sowing rates and times: