Maize is a great energy source. However, it is low in protein. At the DLF maize and beet open day last October, a trial area in the field had a crop of KWS Anastasio maize planted along with runner beans, which were climbing up the plant and give some extra protein to the crop when it is ensiled.

The crop was 60% maize seed and 40% bean seed and looked to be working well together. The crop was yielding similar to a standalone maize crop.

Since then, DLF has tested the protein content of the maize and it came in just 2% higher than standard.

However, there was no yield penalty for having the beans in the crop. The yield was still in around 18t/ac to 20t/ac. It was grown in the open.

This year, the plan is to run the trial again, but to see if nitrogen rates can be cut down on the maize crop, as the runner beans will fix some nitrogen in the field.

Maize and climbing runner beans growing at the DLF trial site.

Maize specialist with DLF, Ned Kehoe commented: “If we can bring up our protein by even a couple of percentage that will cut back on soya, which is good for the environment. We’re growing it on farms. It is still at trial phase, but we have a couple of hundred acres this year. Farmers want it.”

The small increase in protein is still a benefit, but this year’s trials will be interesting to see if nitrogen rates can be cut where beans are grown with the maize crop.