Maize (Zea mays) can grow across a wide range of agro-ecological zones. It is an important component of the human diet. It is also a very important part of poultry and livestock feed.
Maize occupies approximately 24% of farmland in Africa and occasional drought stress affects approximately 40% of Africa’s maize-growing areas. Yield losses of 10-25% were measured. Approximately 25% of the maize suffers frequent drought, with harvest losses of up to 50% according to “Maize In Africa” by International Plant Biotechnology Outreach.
This justifies the need for farmers to adopt sustainable agricultural technologies that will reduce the risks of weather and soil fertility on the yield of maize. The Guide to Commercial Maize Production Under No-till seeks to direct farmers on the how no-till can be adopted for the sustainable production of maize.
To reduce the cost of production and increase yield select site with preferably sandy loams. Soils with high organic matter would be an advantage. You must avoid the site with big trees that may shade the maize heavily. A couple of trees at appreciable distances apart about 15 meters. For mechanized farming, these trees and their roots may be impediments. Also, avoid ant-hills and muddy or swampy areas.
In Commercial Maize Production Under No-till, it is good to take a sample of your soil to the lab to be analyzed. This will give you an idea on the pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, percentage Organic Matter, etc to know how to plan your fertilization program for your plants.
Read also: 10 Simple and Easy Soil Tests
For manual clearing of land, slash vegetation and leave the residue to cover the surface of the soil. Cut small trees in smaller parts so they can decay easily. This will also give easy access to the soil during planting. Relatively big trees can be lifted off the field to be used as fuelwood.
Do not burn the vegetation residue with the intention of easier planting. This leaves the soil bare, reduces organic matter content of the soil, etc. In the case of very thick soil cover, you can employ a roller-crimper to press the cover against the soil to make access to the soil easier.
Obtain high yielding varieties of maize from credible licenced seed dealers. Test your seeds after acquisition to confirm the germination percentage. Doing this will help you determine the seeding rate and how much seed you may require for your farm.
Maize is usually cultivated between March and May for the major season and September and October for the minor season.
You can sow maize after well-distributed rainfall incidence. This will make sure there is enough moisture for germination.
Sow one seed per hill at 75cm x 30cm at a depth of 5cm. This increases the plant population and yield. One seed per hill will ensure efficient use of nutrients and less competition amongst plants. Seeds germinate about 5days after planting. Replace seeds that do not germinate to maintain plant population.
Weeds incidence will be minimal with good land preparation and no-till. Control weeds timely and efficiently to reduce competition and pests during the growing period of the maize plant. This may be done twice. Under no-till, weed density is relatively low and requires minimal labour. On the other hand, heavy tillage will result in heavy weeds growth.
You may apply either synthetic or organic fertilizer to boost the yield of maize. Soil tests will help to know if it is necessary to apply fertilization, the nutrients required and the quantities. Fertile land may no require the use of a fertilizer.
Generally, apply 2bags (50kg) of NPK and one bag (50kg) of Sulphate of Ammonia to an acre of land. With a well-formulated organic fertilizer, apply 100bags per an acre.
Fall armyworm and stem borers are some of the major pests of maize.
Adopt IPM to reduce pest incident of pests. No-till technology creates a natural environment where some of the harmful pests are destroyed by the eating habits of other beneficial organisms.
Know how to control the Fall Armyworm which has become a major pest of maize. Consult the experts on how to use chemicals to control pests on your maize farm.
The maturity periods for maize differs from variety to variety. Maize can be harvested at different stages after the cob is formed depending on the preference of consumers. Have an idea about the maturity period of your chosen variety.
Generally, maize reaches maximum dry weight after 30days of silking.
Harvest at the right time to reduce post-harvest losses.
Maize In Africa – International Plant Biotechnology Outreach.