It is one of the most important cereals for both human and animal consumption, and is cultivated for its grain and fodder. In terms of global production, corn is the third most important food crop after rice and wheat.
Corn is grown in climates ranging from temperate to tropical, when the average daytime temperature is above 15°C, frost-free and with a reference temperature of 10°C.
Corn is cultivated on a wide range of soils, but the following types are preferred: medium and heavy-textured soils, deep, well drained, fertile clay-loam and silty-loam with good water retention properties. Acid or dense subsoils reduce root penetration. The ideal pH range ranges from 7.0 to 8.5. The cultivation tolerates soil salinity. The ideal plant density varies between 70000 and 80000 plants per hectare.
The adoption of drop irrigation and fertilization-irrigation on corn has proved to be technically feasible, economically viable and advantageous in many countries around the world. Drop irrigation in many different agro-ecological situations has increased production (12-14 tonnes/ha) as well as water saving (35 to 55% compared to rainfall and targeted irrigation); better grain quality, lower processing costs (compared to targeted irrigation), precise application of the fertilizer; lower working pressure (compared to the pivot irrigation system). Water is not dispersed by evaporation, rippling, or by wind action.
For abundant production, seasonal water needs for corn have been estimated at between 350 and 800 mm/ha depending on the environment and the length of the varied cultivation season (90 to 150 days) with a daily rate of evaporation-transpiration between 6 and 7.5 mm/day. Irrigation programming, using the foliage water potential measurement through pressure chamber, allowed for efficient use of water, fertilizer and energy supplied. Corn is a great nutrient consumer. The purpose of the fertilization-irrigation program is to bridge the gap between crop demand and supply. Other optimum management modes include irrigation scheduling, pest and disease crop protection, need-based weeds removal, timely harvesting and post-harvesting operations in order to minimize production decreases.