How to grow more corn: Plant it closer together

You might have noticed that there are a couple of conversations chuntering on in earlier posts. Mostly these deal with the ability to plant enough corn to sustain the US ethanol business and keep people fed at a reasonable price.

Here’s breakthrough that is stunning in its simplicity from Iowa Farmer Today: plant the corn closer together.

No really. Its that simple. No details on increased water requirements, or fertiliser needs in subsequent years. Its an idea from Monsanto.

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2 Responses to How to grow more corn: Plant it closer together

  1. David B. Benson 5 September, 2008 at 12:40 am #

    “Its an idea from Monsanto.”

    Then its probably a bad idea (unless the farmer buys something from Monsanto.)

  2. larry hagedon 5 September, 2008 at 12:54 am #

    I am realy confused by this. They were doing trials in the 1950s on crop densities, about the time they developed accurate and adjustable corn planters. They came to the conclusion that it varies from farm to farm and farmer to farmer as to what seeding densities to use.

    Farmers set their planters for different desired densities based on their years of experience on their own farms. If planting earlier or later in the spring or planting for green chop silage they will adjust planting rates accordingly.

    How anyone can think this is a new deal is beyond me.

    That said, the corn seed technology has come a long way and has a long way yet to go. The experts at the USDA, Ag colleges and seed companies generaly believe that we can get around double the corn yield by continuing to breed for higher yields, including using gene manipulation.

    A lot of energy still goes into the corn stalks that could go into the kernels. That much new yield increase is yet to be proven however.

    Of course we are working toward making fuel, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals and products and animal feed from the cobs and stalks too. We are now breeding corn stalks custom designed for the desired end products.

    The real future in corn is in the processing of corn kernels for new products, products that can feed into new markets. Right now we have all our current corn product markets saturated. We need to develop more corn based products so we can grow and market more corn. They are working on that.

    Processing 90 percent of our corn instead of only 24 percent for fuel and other products, like fish food for the newly recognized Vietnamese fish farming market, will help a lot in using up our new crop, so we can grow more corn next year.

    Larger scale Green Algae processing could easily take a lot of market share away from corn and could well force a cutback in corn production. The faster we can ramp up markets for any non-competing corn and algae co-products the better off we will be.

    We will soon be using our so called ocean dead zones as highly fertile algae growing plantations. The time will come that a lot of runoff from farm fields and feedlots in Iowa and Illinois will be filtered thru vast green algae beds before we send it on down the river to the Gulf.

    Then the ocean dead zone algae farmers will be complaining that the Mississippi River waters are not fertile enough; that we are screening out too much nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and it is reducing their algae yields.

    In fact we may well one day fertilise the ocean dead zones with surplus brewers grains based fetilizers, already developed, to increase green algae production.

    Barring localised political turmoil and war, running short of food anywhere in the world is not in the cards anytime soon. North Korea could have all the food they can eat for the asking. They would rather make nukes than corn porridge. Same basic principle for Africa.


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