Among all the cereals maize (Zea mays L.) ranks third after wheat and rice in production and it is consumed as a staple food in several countries of tropics and subtropics. Corn is used as a staple food for humans and as a quality fodder. It serves as a basic raw ingredient for industrial products like starch, food sweeteners, oil, pharmaceutical, protein, alcoholic beverages, cosmetic, gum, textile, film package, paper industries etc.
Maize is considered as “queen of cereals”. It being a C4 plant can effectively utilize CO2 even at high intensity. Maize is an exhaustive crop and needs balanced supply of macro and micro-nutrients.
Integrated Nutrient Management (INM) is the process to maintain the soil fertility and plant nutrient supply at an optimum level through optimization by the benefits of all possible sources of nutrients like inorganic, organic, biofertilizers and through green manure.
Maize is a very exhaustive crop and demands relatively high amount of fertilizers. It responds well to applied nutrients either through organic or inorganic sources.
The rate of nutrient application depends mainly on soil nutrient status /balance and cropping system. For obtaining desirable yields, the doses of applied nutrients should be matched with the soil supplying capacity and plant demand (Site-specific nutrient management approach) by keeping in view the preceding crop (cropping system).
For higher economic yield of maize, application of 10 t FYM per ha, 10-15 days prior to sowing supplemented with 150-180 kg N, 70-80 kg P2O5, 70-80 kg K2O and 25 kg ZnSO4 per ha is recommended.
Seed treatment with 600 g of Azospirillum help in the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen in the soil and provide nourishment to the growing plants.
Neem oil coated urea (NOCU) in 700 ppm concentration is recommended for higher yield, returns and nitrogen use efficiency in Kharif maize. Application of slow release neem/sulphur coated urea and the residue in the maize wheat/mustard-mungbean cropping systems recommended for enhancing crop health, soil properties and productivity.
Full doses of P, K and Zn should be applied as basal preferably drilling of fertilizers in bands along the seed using seed-cum-fertilizer drills. Nitrogen should be applied as follows in 5 splits for higher productivity and use efficiency.
|Crop stage||Nitrogen rate (%)|
|Basal (at sowing)||20|
|Four leaf stage||25|
|Eight leaf stage||30|
|Grain filling stage||5|
Cultural practices for better nutrient uptake
Nutrient deficiencies in crops reduce yields, quality and profits to the farmer. Yield can often be reduced 10 - 30% by deficiencies of major nutrients before any clear symptoms of deficiency are observed in the field.