Soil preparation is the first stage of cultivating (forage) maize under film. This process should ultimately result in a suitable (read: a fine granular) seedbed.
The first aspect of soil preparation is deciding whether or not to plough before the winter. The advantages are: moisture expansion due to freezing causes the soil to break down into small particles. The inherent risk here is that ploughing and then a very wet winter with no frost to speak of will result in a vast porridge-like mass. And when spring arrives, the soil takes a little longer to become manageable and accessible.
There is an additional risk on peatland clay plots: ploughing at excessive depths (deeper than 30 cm) will cause the acidic peat soil to surface, and no self-respecting plant would choose to grow there.
In professional terms, ploughing is ‘a turning soil treatment’. The alternative is to plough in the spring. Preparing the soil using a cultivator is an alternative option for peatland with a thin clay layer. The forks on a cultivator loosen the upper layer of soil. Therefore, this is not a turning soil treatment. If there is a lot of organic matter in the soil then applying a weed-killer before ploughing the soil is the preferred method. The soil is then finely granulated using a power harrow.
The growing process is the third stage of cultivating (forage) maize under film. The germinated plant breaks through the soil after 8 days. This process would take 20 days without the film. This is in fact the 2nd time-related advantage. The heat generated by a weak spring sun causes the temperature under the film to easily reach 35-40 degrees Celsius. The evaporated moisture immediately condenses against the film cover. The result: a wonderfully moist tropical atmosphere. For the more absent-minded among us, (forage) maize is a sub-tropical crop. The film has a perforated structure, providing access for wind and a little rainwater, (pinholes). The plant breaks through the foil after 8 weeks, grows rapidly (100 kg dry matter per day) and the crop is ready to harvest at the end of August, which in turn creates opportunities to sow grass, if crop rotation is desirable. Grass crops that are sown in the autumn generate € 300 more than those sown in May.
Harvesting is the fourth stage of cultivating (forage) maize under film. The crop is weighed in the test composition and analysed. We have established a significant increase in the starch level during the last two years. Nutritional based reasons make this a key cultivation aim in the North. After all, highly productive dairy cattle need starch. The explanation lies in the available sunlight in June and July. The accelerated growth facilitates a significant sugar accumulation, which ultimately leads to more starch. Approximately € 200- 300 per hectare. The (forage) maize is harvested and chopped.
Watch the film about harvesting the (forage) maize grown under film:
The sowing process is the second stage of growing (forage) maize under film.
The seeds are sown at an approximate distance of 12 ½ cm at a depth of 5cm. 100,000 seeds per hectare. A more developed crop can be achieved by reducing the number of seeds to approximately 90,000/hectare. Slightly fewer plants, but they are better developed plants. Each variety has here a different breaking point. A pre-emergence residual herbicide is sprayed immediately after sowing. 2 rows are then covered with film, with a +/- 30 cm strip of soil on both sides. Loose soil is also important here as large lumps will cause tears in the foil. The soil temperature usually has to be around 12 degrees Celsius (to prevent seed rot) and sowing can take place from the end of April. The foil causes an increase in the soil temperature and sowing can start as early as the third week of April, or possibly even earlier if the carrying capacity of the soil is suitable (in relation to the heavy weight of the machine). The approximate price of the foil is € 260/hectare.
You can watch the sowing preparation process for the (forage) maize under film in the video below.
Even though it is not an actual cultivation stage, it goes without saying that the final task is to ensilage the (forage) maize grown under film and feed it to the cattle. Silage making is an exact process and professionalism and care are required to prevent heating or even fire. Do you want to know more about growing (forage) maize under film? Then contact us! The chopped (forage) maize is put in the pit immediately. The girls can’t get enough of it! Watch the film about ensilaging the (forage) maize grown under film.
Watch the movia about ensilaging the maize grown under film: