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Diversification of silage maize cultivation by using winter cover crops enabled by ultra-early maize varieties: New practice abstract

Continuous monocropping of silage maize is associated with unintended impacts on production levels and the environment, such as decreasing soil quality, pressure on biodiversity and ground water quality and increasing GHG-emissions.

Project partners from Wageningen University & Research Farming Systems Ecology Group, The Netherlands, WUR FSE, Martin Gorter, Fogelina Cuperus with the assistance of other colleagues, recently published a practice abstract explaining diversification in silage maize production. 

To counteract the negative impacts of continuous monocropping of silage maize, cover crops are grown in the winter, as a break crop between two maize crops. Using ultra-early maize varieties ensures that these winter crops have more time to grow and increases their positive effects for example to soil quality. Cover crops have the potential to fix remaining nitrogen from the soil, which can then be released to the soil in the next growing season. Past research showed that the cultivation of a winter-hardy cover crop after silage maize reduced nitrate leaching.

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