Even-sowing pattern strategies for a low-input organic system in forage maize
Keywords:weed-control strategies, alternative seed patterns, precision agriculture, environmental management
The objective of this study was to verify the effectiveness of new patterns of sowing and to achieve a low-input organic system in two different environments (northern and southern Europe). The study was motivated by the hypothesis that more even sowing patterns (triangular and square) would significantly enhance the growth and yield of forage maize under widely varying conditions, compared with traditional mechanised rectangular seed patterns. An experiment was conducted in Madrid and duplicated in Copenhagen during 2010. A random block design was used with a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement based on two seed-sowing patterns: traditional (rectangular) and new (even) and two weed-management conditions (herbicide use and a low-input system). In both weed-management conditions and locations, the production of aerial maize biomass was greater for the new square seed patterns. In addition, the new pattern showed a greater effectiveness in the control of weeds, both at the initial crop stages (36% and 33% fewer weeds m-2 at the 4- and 8-leaf stages, respectively, in the Copenhagen field experiment) and at the final stage. The final weed biomass for the new pattern was 568 kg ha-1 lower for the Copenhagen experiment and 277 kg ha-1 lower in Madrid field experiments. In the light of these results, the new pattern could potentially reduce the use of herbicides. The results of the experiments support the hypothesis formulated at the beginning of this study that even-sowing patterns would be relatively favourable for the growth and yield of the maize crop. In the near future, new machinery could be used to achieve new seed patterns for the optimisation of biomass yield under low-input systems. This approach is effective because it promotes natural crop-weed competition.
Keywords: weed-control strategies, alternative seed patterns, precision agriculture, environmental management