Maize (corn) along with wheat and rice is one of the world’s top crops. Maize provides not only the fast-foods of western society - breakfast cereals, sweet corn and popcorn – but also the staple foods for much of the world’s population in developing countries where it is used to make porridge, bread and tortillas. All around the world, maize grain is a basic livestock feed, and the crop can be cut while still green to make silage as a winter feed. Also, over recent years maize has been increasingly used as a feedstock for the production of bioethanol.
Maize, perhaps more than any other crop, reaches both high and low extremes of sophistication, mechanisation and technology in crop production. All farmers, however, need to maximise the yield and quality of their produce, while saving the costs, time and labor needed to grow it. Protecting maize from weeds, pests and diseases is essential to avoiding heavy losses in yields and quality of grain. Weed control is usually most important. Paraquat is a non-selective herbicide which, when used in integrated weed management systems, can provide the solution to weed problems.
As maize is grown so widely, and often intensively, its production can create significant environmental impact.