The European Confederation of Maize Production (CEPM), an association of European maize producers, is making its presence felt in Brussels by organising on 24th April a seminar on innovative agro-economic solutions offered by maize-growing in the framework of greening under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The seminar stimulated discussion among over 70 people, including EU Institution officials, attachés from Permanent Representations, representatives of sectoral associations and environmental NGOs (e.g. BirdLife), and journalists.
Winter cover of post-maize soil ensures the greatest possible agronomic and environmental benefits, provided it respects the required recommendations. In the absence of winter cover, there is an alternative: mulching, an agronomic technique practised since the 17th century in the valleys of great rivers such as the Garonne, the Danube and the Rhine.
Mulching involves grinding the residues of crops and incorporating them superficially into the soil. It is particularly suitable for maize crops as the stalks of maize are neither used nor exported.
Moreover, this sensible use of residues leads to excellent results in terms of return of organic material to the soil, carbon sequestration, protecting against erosion and equally reducing the risk of disease and parasites without recourse to chemical substances.
To continue being applied, mulching needs to be recognised by the Commission as an “equivalent practice” to winter cover in the framework of the CAP greening. For this purpose, Member States have to notify the Commission of their intention to grant equivalence to these practices.
Ultimately, the Commission can make the final decision.
By taking a proactive approach, the workshop clearly demonstrated the advantages of the innovative practices put forward by the maize sector for the CAP greening, keeping in mind that in the long run those solutions will have to become more widespread to anticipate future directions of the CAP in the 2020 horizon.
ELO: Innovative solutions for the new CAP greening