Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture, Zurich-Reckenholz

Impact of different cultivation techniques on yield of maize silage

During the early growth of conventionally cropped maize, the soil surface is usually uncovered for nearly two months. Frequent heavy rainfalls, typical for Switzerland in spring, increase the risk of soil erosion. Cropping systems with reduced tillage intensity are suitable measures to prevent these negative environmental impacts. With rotary band seeding, a new system for maize cropping developed at the Swiss Federal Research Station, soil cultivation is limited to a small strip where maize plants are drilled while the soil between the maize rows remains undisturbed. Results of field trials during the last twelve years with different cover crops or grass clover lay showed similar yield of silage maize with rotary band seeding or conventional tillage after moldboard plough. Efficient and early weed control between the rows was crucial for high maize yield. With no-tillage, yield of maize silage drilled after grass clover lay was significantly lower as compared to rotary band seeding and conventional tillage but similar to all cropping systems when drilled after any other cover crops. Percentage of soil cover by ryegrass at the 7 to 12 leave stage of maize was strongly correlated with the amount of silage maize harvested. An effective control of the cover crop and particularly of ryegrass has shown to be a key factor for the success of reduced tillage cropping systems.

To the archive