Despite adhering to good professional practice, maize cultivation in some locations can be fraught with problems. Erosion during the juvenile development of the slow-closing maize, nitrogen outputs or soil compaction after the harvest are just a few of the possible difficulties that farmers are faced with. Nurse crops can help in these areas and can even bring other economic advantages. For example, the cultivation of nurse crops is eligible for funding in some federal states in Germany.
As the regulatory requirements associated with crop cultivation are constantly increasing, nurse crops are becoming increasingly more interesting, particularly in maize cultivation. Due to its comparatively slow development, wide row spacing and growth height, the crop is particularly good for planting with nurse crops. It’s also economically interesting to use a catch crop or field forage as a nurse crop as it helps farmers to save both working time and costs.
However, for both conventional and organic farms the advantages and disadvantages of using nurse crops must be weighed up carefully due to the unavoidable competition between the main crop and nurse crop for water and nutrients! If the nurse crop is unsuccessful, it then competes with the main crop without having any positive effects.