Introduction To Economics of Maize Cultivation / Maize Farming Project Report
The following content is ablout Maize Farming Project Report.
Maize, a cereal grain is a native of southern Mexico. It is also called as Corn and its binomial name is Zea Mays. The maize plant is an annual crop belonging to the Gramineae family of grasses such as wheat, rye, barley, etc. maize is broadly classified into two species: Zea Mays and Zea Diploperennis. There are again many sub-species under each category that vary according to the starch content in the grain. Due to its wide adaptability to various agro-climatic conditions and its high genetic potential, maize is known as ‘Queen of Cereals’. The cultivation of maize in India is done throughout the year, but predominantly it is a kharif crop. Apart from being used as a food grain for human beings and animals, it also serves as raw material for industries like starch, oil, protein, alcohol, beverages, cosmetic, film, gum, paper and textile.
This maize farming project report describes the cultivation procedures and at the end of the document it describes about the minimum investment structure required for farming maize or production of maize in a small area of land along with the profits one can expect.
Scope and importance
In India, the major maize growing states are Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Maize in India is considered to be the third most important cereal crop after rice and wheat. The total average production of maize is estimated to be around 2.5 metric tonnes per hectare annually. Currently, the production has increased and it is estimated that India exports around 7 lakh metric tonnes to other countries and earns an income of more than one thousand crores. The major export destinations of maize from India are Nepal, Bangladesh, Philippines, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. With an ever increasing demand of maize for both domestic and international trade, there is a possibility of great success in maize farming business.
Government incentives have helped to increase the production of Maize in the recent years and to make it even more comfortable for the cultivators; an inter-ministerial panel has been set up by the Government to help farmers adopt crop diversification. Also efforts are being made to implement modern technologies for handling the grains after harvest, so that the losses occurring due to improper management could be minimized.
Cultivars or varieties
Maize crop is classified based on the maturity period into five types: full season variety (105-110 days for maturity), medium variety (95-100 days), early variety (89 or 90 days), very early variety (75-80 days) and extra early variety. Another classification is made on the basis of yield, i.e. hybrid variety and composite varieties.
Some hybrid varieties of maize are Deccan hybrid, Ganga Safed 2, Ganga 4, Ganga 7, hi-starch, Himalayan 123, paras etc. and some composite varieties of maize are amber, Vijay, jawahar, kisan, sona, vikram etc. Maize varieties with high lysine content are Shakti, rattan and protina.
Plant and its properties
Maize plant is considered as a grass with a stem of about 2 to 3 m high. Some other tropical and subtropical varieties attain a height of about 6 to 7 m. The thickness of the stem is around 3 to 4 cm and may contain around 14 internodes. The average number of leaves in a plant is around 8 to 48 with a length of 30 to 150 cm. Some maize plants facilitate the growth of side shoots. It should be clearly observed that dent and small seeded flint maize plants are single stemmed whereas large seeded flint could be either single stemmed or bushy in nature.
The root system of the plant doesn’t contain taproot instead it has feathery roots spread in the top soil. The seminal roots of the plant survive throughout the life of the plant. The penetrating ability of the roots depends on the availability of nutrients and the drainage facility of the farm land. The minimum depth to which the roots can penetrate is 2.5 m. Roots penetrate deeper in dry soil and are shallow in damp soil.
The plant produces flowers in spikelets like all other grasses and is of two types: the male and the female. The male inflorescence or tassel is on the main axis. These tassels emerge from the leaves situated at the top of the plant, whereas the female spikelets are not visible because they are covered with husks of young ear or cob (female inflorescence). The leaves of the lateral branch are modified in structure with well developed blades.
The grains of maize are on the cob surrounded by the chaffy remains of glumes, lemmas and paleas of the two flowers and held on short, spongy pedicels. The cob length is approximately in between 8 to 42 cm with a diameter of 3 to 5 cm. It is estimated that one single cob of maize can hold around 300 to 1000 seeds. The size, colour, dent etc. of the seed depends on the variety of the crop. Seed size may also vary on the basis of chemical and physical properties. The endosperm of the maize grain is classified into two types: the hard flinty endosperm and the starchy endosperm. Based on the endosperm of the kernel maize grains are divided into seven groups such as flint, dent, sweet, pop, flour, fod and waxy corn.
Stages of Corn plant growth
The maize plant growth can be described in 9 different stages such as:
Stage 0 – planting to emergence stage
Stage 1 – formation of four leaves
Stage 2 – formation of eight leaves
Stage 3 – formation of twelve leaves
Stage 4 – formation of sixteen leaves
Stage 5 – formation of silks and pollen shedding
Stage 6 & 7 – hard dough formation
Stage 8 – maturity (physiological)
Each stage mentioned here needs special attention in terms of fertilizer, water and nutrient supply.
Soil and climatic requirements
The soil for maize farming should have effective depth, good internal drainage, favorable morphological properties and balanced nutrient content. Healthy maize cultivation is possible in soils with a clay content less than 10% sand soils or in excess of 30% in clay-loam soils. Salinity stress is not acceptable for the plants and also the farm for maize cultivation should not be a low lying farm.
Maize is considered as a warm weather crop and is not suitable for cultivation in the areas with a mean temperature of less than 19˚C. During germination the seed needs a temperature of 16 to 18˚C and for proper growth the plant needs an optimum temperature of around 32˚C.
Maize farms without irrigation need a summer rainfall of minimum 15 cm per month. It is estimated that to obtain a yield of 3000 kgs approximately per hectare of land, the minimum rainfall range should be in between 350 to 450 mm annually.
Most of the farms use seeds for the propagation of maize. To protect the seeds from various diseases, it is advisable to treat the seeds with suitable fungicides and insecticides before planting. The seeds can either be directly sown in the main fields or can be grown in nurseries and then transplanted into the main area after a month or two. Small seeds do perform equally as large seeds, but care should be taken not to plant the small seed too deep into the soil (maximum 5 cm).
Land preparation and planting
Preparing the soil properly and planting the material efficiently determines the crop yield. There are different ways for tillage and crop establishment as defined by the Resource Conservation Technology (RCT) such as zero tillage, minimum tillage, surface seeding, etc. The main aim of soil tillage practices is to improve the structure of the soil and reduce erosion by wind or water. First or primary tilling is done by mouldboard ploughs, disc/chisel ploughs, rippers etc. Secondary tillage implements include rotary tiller, tined cultivators, harrows etc. Maize seeds can be planted when the external conditions like soil, water, weather etc are favourable. The depth of planting maize seeds is 5 to 10 cm; shallow planting is done on heavy soil types. Wide rows of width 1.5 to 2.1 m are observed where medium rainfall is expected and soil erosion problems exist. Narrow rows of dimension 0.91 cm to 1 m are created in heavy rainfall regions. The possible seed rates and planting geometry for maize farming are:
- Normal grain – 20 kgs/ha; 60 x 20 cm or 75 x 20 cm spacing; 83333 or 66666 plants per hectare.
- Sweet corn – 8 kg/ha; 75 x 25 cm or 75 x 30 cm spacing; 53333 or 44444 plants per hectare.
- Baby corn – 25 kgs/ha; 60 x 20 cm or 60 x 15 cm with 83333 or 111111 plants per ha.
- Popcorn – 12 kg/ha; 60 x 20 cm spacing; accommodating 83333 plants per ha.
- Green cob – 20 kg/ha; 75 x 20 cm spacing; 66666 plants per ha.
Different ways of planting or establishing maize crops are:
Raised bed planting
- Considered as the best method of planting during monsoon and winter.
- Beds are oriented east-west direction and sowing should be done on the south side.
- This method saves irrigation water up to 20-30%.
- Furrows in between the rows or beds act as drainage during excess water in the farm.
- Proper spacing of the plants is highly recommended with this method.
- This method should be used for farms with good soil moisture content.
- Proper planter having suitable furrow opener and a seed metering system should be used.
Conventional till flat planting
- Used for farms where heavy weed infestation is observed and herbicide use is ineffective.
- Can also be used for rain-fed areas where crops entirely depend on the soil moisture content.
- This method prevents evaporation losses of water during spring season and helps the crops grow better by reducing their moisture stress.
- For farms that need to be vacated during December-January, it is a natural practice to grow the seeds in the nursery and then transplant them into the main area to obtain quality produce. To facilitate a farm of 1 hectare, the nursery area of 700 m² is required especially during the second half of November. The transplanting material or seedlings should be minimum 30 to 40 days old.
The soil type and structure decide the amount of nutrients to be supplied to the farm. Integrated nutrient management strategy is used to fertilize maize crops. One hectare of land may probably require 10 tonnes of FYM (supplied 10-15 days before sowing), 150-180 kgs of nitrogen, 70-80 kgs of P₂O₅, 70-80 kgs of K₂O and 25 kgs of ZnSO₄ for generating higher economic yield from the farm. Nitrogen fertilizer is supplied to the farms in 5 split doses during different stages of plant development such as basal or sowing stage (20%), V₄ or four leaf stage (25%), V₈ or eight leaf stage (30%), tasseling stage (20%) and grain filling stage (5%). It is important to note that nitrogen deficiency can cause 10-30% reduction in the crop yield. A full dose of all the above mentioned fertilizers should be applied as a basal dose in bands along the seed beds.
The yield of maize is highly disturbed by the soil moisture availability in non-irrigated regions. This plant has varying levels of water requirement depending on its stages of growth, weather and soil conditions. Water is needed by the plants right from germination stage and it gradually increases with an increase in the number of leaves on the plant. The minimum water required by the plant until it reaches to a height of 25-30 cm is 2.5 mm each day. When the plant is in its growing stage, i.e. from silking to dough stage of grain development, it needs 6 to 8 mm of water each day. Plants in high temperature and low humidity zones comparatively need more water that the above mentioned figures. Excess soil moisture for at least 3 to 6 days can drastically reduce the yield by 30 to 50%.
Irrigation is less prominent in maize farms because the 80% of the crop is cultivated during the monsoon season i.e. under rain-fed conditions. If there are furrows created in the farm then they should be fed with water to a height of ⅔rd of the raised bed.
The most important cultural practice on the maize farms is weeding because they are a serious problem as they compete with the crop for nutrients and cause a crop loss of approximately 35%. Weed management at the right time is extremely important to achieve higher yield. As a preventive measure, an herbicide is used as a pre-emergence spray in the farm. Once the major broad leaved weeds are removed, one or two hoeing cycles are carried out to provide aeration and uproot the remaining small weeds in the field. If the weed occurrence is heavy in the farmland, then a post emergence application of suitable herbicide is recommended.
Apart from weeding the crops need to be managed during the mid-season. Areas which have scanty rainfall conditions should practice rain-harvesting techniques like mulching, pot-holding, tied-ridging or wet ripping.
Spilt top dressing is done with ammonium nitrate or urea once in the first after 4 weeks of plant establishment and the other at 7 weeks of plant growth.
Pest and disease management
The most common insect pests found in the maize farms are stem borer, pink borer, shoot fly, termites, American bollworm and chaffer beetle. Control of pests is possible by:
- Releasing 8 trichocards per hectare of land after 10 days of seed germination.
- Intercropping the maize farm with cowpea varieties.
- Sowing the seeds at the right time (first week of February).
- Sowing in the spring season should be done after treating the seeds properly with suitable fungicides.
- Keeping the farm free from debris.
- Severe insect infestation should be carefully handled by the proper use of insecticides.
There are several diseases that occur in maize plants based on the seasons and improper management. Diseases like foliar, stalk, root rot, ear rot cause an estimated loss of around 13.2%. The most common diseases occurring in the plants are turcicum leaf blight, maydis leaf blight, polysora rust, banded leaf and sheath blight and downy mildew. Disease resistant cultivars should be used so as to prevent the occurrence of these diseases or bio-fungicides suitable for the crops should be used before the disease occurrence.
Harvesting and yield of Maize crop
Mechanical harvesting method is commonly used by maize cultivators, because the entire plant is cut and put into stacks while they are still green. Dry ears can be picked after the stacks have completely dried under the sun. While harvesting the optimum moisture content in the grain is expected to be 20%. The best time for harvest is from mid-September to October. The indication of maturity in the crop is noticed by the change in colour of green cob cover into white. The average estimated yield of maize from one hectare of land is around 2500-3000 kgs.
Post harvest management
The cobs obtained from the farm are either sold fresh or sold as dried grains/seeds depending on the demand in the market. After harvest the cobs are dried on kuccha or pucca floor with a tarpaulin spread underneath so as to avoid seed injury. The cobs should be dried until they reach 13 to 14% moisture content.
Male and female cobs are shelled separately to avoid mechanical mixture and this process is generally done either manually or by power operated maize Sheller.
Sorting of grains is done according to their size, quality and texture such that the uniformity in the quality of the seeds is maintained.
Aerated jute bags are used to store grains that are completely dry (8% moisture). Cold storage facility is utilized for storing the maize seeds otherwise this could result in loss of vigour and lead to poor germination.
Cost and profit analysis of Maize Farming Project Report
The sample investment details for one acre farmland are described below. The values presented here are just estimated roughly and vary slightly from the practical values. The charges related to land, transport, packaging, depreciation on buildings and farm equipment are not discussed here because there is an unpredictable variation depending on the location and other external factors. Only the most important and common investment details are presented here for reference, but it should be clearly noted that while the practical implementation of the project every single component has to be dealt with.
Assumptions of Maize Farming Project Report, made under rainfed conditions:
Cost of planting material (seeds): Rs 1000/4 kg.
Charge of labour per manday: Rs 300.
Cost of fertilizers per kg: Rs 100.
Cost of manure per kg: Rs 15.
|Material and labour||Investment in Rs|
|8 kgs of maize seeds as planting material||2,000.00|
|Cost of DAP and other fertilizers||5,500.00|
|1 tractor of manure||2000.00|
|Human labour for ploughing, planting, weeding and harvesting.||5,200.00|
|Other miscellaneous charges like transport||500.00|
Production from the farm: 30 quintals per acre.
Sale price of maize per kg: Rs 1200 per quintal.
Income from 30 quintals of maize: (total production x sale price per unit)
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(30 x 1200) = Rs 36,000.
Profit from 1 acre of maize cultivation is: (Total income – Total Investment)
(Rs 36,000 – Rs 15,200) = Rs 20,800.
Loans and subsidies
Assistance to the maize cultivators is provided by the government through the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) in various components of farming such as seeds, Sheller machines, etc. FICCI also organizes various schemes for supporting the maize cultivators and it is advisable to visit the concerned website for exact details of subsidy amounts and their related components.
Read: Aniseed Cultivation.