On 21st June a maize companion cropping trial was commenced at The Brook Farm at Elgwys Cross with grass mixes intersown to 32 acres of an established maize crop.   The trial is being undertaken through an NRW funded project on the Emral Brook catchment, supported by Agrovista, with the aim of understanding the benefits to soil management and erosion risk of grass cover after maize established as a companion crop during the maize growing season.  Farmer Mark Mottershead worked with Agrovista and contractor Michael Broster to intersow 2 grass mixes, an Italian ryegrass compared with a perennial ryegrass/advanced tall fescue mix, into early ripening maize variety ‘Glory’ which was sown on 14th may.  Agrovista agronomist Phil Campion commented that previous trials have demonstrated that the intersowing into a growing maize crop works best when grasses are drilled rather than broadcast, into the maize at the 4-6 leaf stage when the maize plant is approximately knee-high.  The contractor has modified a drill with weaving double-disc coulters mounted on a tool bar, to sow 3 rows of intersown mix between maize at standard 75cm spacing.  Mr Broster notes that this works best when following an 8 row drill on the maize crop.  Estimated establishment costs were between £27-£37/acre including seed and drilling.

Dry ground conditions have delayed grass establishment, however germination and development of the grass sward is expected as ground moisture returns following rainfall.  A follow up event will be held in the Autumn to which farmers will be invited to view and discuss outcomes.   To be on a mailing list to be contacted about the date of this event, please email hub@reaseheath.ac.uk