top of page


Maize is an extremely important crop as it is a staple food source in many developing countries as is also widely utilised in animal feed. It is therefore important for the survival of many people across the globe. Due to this, it is important to ensure that we succeed at producing high-yielding crops. Ensuring that one makes use of the correct fertilizer is a very important aspect of producing successful crops.

In this article, we will discuss why the use of fertilizer for maize crop growth is so important, what nutrients should be included in a well-balanced maize crop fertilizer and how one can determine the amount of fertilizer required.

What Affects Maize Crop Growth

Maize crops and the quality of the yield one receives from them are directly linked to the climate and soil. If the soil quality is poor or does not contain the type and amount of nutrients required, the crop yield will not be up to standard. Maize is known as a heavy nutrient-feeder plant. This means that it withdraws a high amount of nutrients from the soil in order to grow.

The Importance of Fertilizer for Maize Crop Growth

By making use of a fertilizer one can ensure that the soil has enough nutrients for a crop to flourish. The type of nutrients added to the soil is also important. Maize specifically requires and thrives on phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. Understanding how a maize crop makes use of these nutrients is important as it will allow you to add the right amount of each nutrient at the correct time.


Phosphorus (P) is very important for the proper development of a maize plant's root system. Therefore, it is important to ensure that there is enough phosphorous in the first stage when planting and root development occur.


Maize makes use of a lot of nitrogen (N) throughout its growing cycle. It is also the nutrient that regulates the growth rate of the plant. One can add small amounts of nitrogen to the soil when planting; however, too much might damage the seeds. It is then advisable to once again add nitrogen to the soil once the plants have emerged and again just before its largest growth spurt (around 30 days later). Nitrogen is important as it determines how well the plant performs photosynthesis and allows for vegetative growth, providing the plant with its green colour. Therefore, if your maize crop is yellowing it is probably due to a lack of nitrogen.


Potassium (K) is important for optimal growth in maize plants, especially during its growth spurt phase. It is important as it helps regulate the water content within the plant, assists in keeping the stalk and plant rigid, allows the plant to absorb other nutrients and much more. Potassium does not need to be added as frequently or in such large amounts in comparison to phosphorus or nitrogen. This is due to the fact that only 25% of the potassium is absorbed in the maize kernels. Therefore if one does not harvest the entire plant and allows for remainings integration, 75% of the previous crop's potassium will return to the soil.

Some other nutrients that are important when cultivating a healthy maize crop include iron, zinc, calcium, manganese, and sulphur.

Fertilizer for Maize Crops Per Hectare

It is necessary to perform soil testing in order to accurately determine the amount of fertilizer and nutrients required per hectare. However, as a guideline 25 kg of nitrogen, 5 kg of phosphorus, and 20 kg of potassium is removed from the soil per 1 ton of whole corn harvest. If one has performed a harvest that leaves stubble on the field then 15 kg nitrogen, 3 kg phosphorus, and 4 kg of potassium will be removed.

Fertilizer for Maize Crops in South Africa

If you are still unsure of how much fertilizer to utilize for a healthy crop that yields optimal results then FERTASA will have the answers. FERTASA is the Fertilizer Association of South Africa and governs over all fertilizers released in the country. They have multiple studies and informational sources on the exact amounts needed per crop.

To find out more about FERTASA and what your maize crop requires, visit the AGRIFOODSA directory.


bottom of page