The intention is to grow corn without harmful chemicals, that doesn’t affect biodiversity, and that guarantees a good harvest for farmers
Translated by Thomas Ansell
Two fields of corn in Joure and Doniaga in Friesland could spell the future for corn growing in Europe. The ‘test-fields’ will be used to research how farmers can grow corn sustainably and without contributing to a monoculture. As reported by the Omrop Fryslân.
The two fields are part of a collaboration between the Province of Friesland, the European Agricultural Development Fund, and the corn-growing business Nordic Maize Breeding. The Louis Bolk Institute will process the scientific findings of the two fields.
Griet Raaphorst of Nordic Maize Breeding says: “the goes is that we don’t have to spray the sprouts and longer, and that we don’t get weeds in between the rows of corn so that we don’t have to use weedkillers. We are using no non-natural chemicals, and we’ve decided to use alternative ways of preventing weeds, such as planting different types of cereal between the corn. These could be buckwheat, alfalfa, or phacelia. Through this we hope to achieve more biodiversity, protect the environment, and reduce pressure on the soil”.
With both fields having been planted in 2019, there is still another year to go before the full results come in. An interim report is being prepared for the end of this year, which will explain further how the technique benefits not only nature, but also farmers.
Corn grows after the usual April/May harvest season, and so could be an important and lucrative rotation crop for the farmer. But, working with the new biodiverse and chemical-free techniques may be more work for the farmers, says Raaphorst. “The use of chemical products is easier, but we want to find a way of doing our new technique with mechanization. Otherwise it will be hard to get farmers to take up our new ideas.