Corn in the Farm Ecosystem

Corn ear drawing Corn is in the center of many farm ecosystems. Corn uses the nitrogen produced by soybeans and other legume crops. Corn also absorbs water and other nutrients in the soil through its roots. Corn is eaten by the animals on the farm, and humans eat both the animals and the corn.

In addition to knowing how their corn crop interacts with the other things in the farm ecosystem, farmers need to know how corn grows. Like all other plants, corn produces its own food from the air, water and sunlight through the process of photosynthesis. Corn plants use the food they photosynthesize to grow and produce corn.

Eco Info
All the photosynthesis in the world turns 70 million tons of air into food every year!

Corn plants go through different stages of growth:

Germinating corn photo

Corn ear photo




After it is planted in the soil and recieves enough water, the seed, or corn kernel, sprouts.

The corn plant photosynthesizes and grows taller, then the corn tassel blooms and is pollinated by bees or other insects.

Finally, the plant produces ears of corn, or fruit, that the farmer can harvest as food.

Photos from Iowa State University of Science and Technology Cooperative Extension Service

Grow your own food!

There are many different types of corn. Various breeds of corn have different genes that control characteristics such as the height of the corn, how sweet the corn is, and what color it is. Farmers choose corn that has genes that will produce the kind of corn with the characteristics they want, like feed corn for cattle, popcorn, or sweet corn. They also choose corn that have genes that will do the best in the soil and weather conditions on their farm.

What genes would you choose to grow a type of corn where you live?

Dragonfly on cornstalk
Dragonfly on a cornstalk
Photo by Emily Sprowls
Back to The Farm Ecosytem Nature

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