Crop rotation definition and benefits

crop rotation definitionCrop rotating is an important part of every farmers soil management practice. A properly set up crop rotation can provide a benefit to your farm. In this post I am going to cover a few things: crop rotation definition, crop rotation benefits, crop rotation disadvantages and a crop rotation chart.

Let’s jump into it.

Crop rotation definition

One way to think about crop rotations is to change the crop in a field each year. The new crop you put in the field will be from a different family. The idea behind this is to change what nutrients the crop uses, and the insects it attracts. So, the bugs never get use to one field because you are constantly changing it. In terms of soil, each crop needs different nutrients. Changing the crop every year prevents reduction in  any one nutrient in your field.

You can use this method with anywhere from two fields and up.

Your crop rotation can include livestock as well. The livestock help to increase the soil nutrients with manure.

Crop rotation benefits

There are many benefits to using a crop rotation system. If you don’t rotate your crops, you run the risk of depleting your soil of a particular nutrient.

Diversify soil

By rotating your crops, it helps to shift the composition of the soil.  The change in the soil helps to ward off diseases in your crops.

A healthier crop means a better yield.

Suppresses insects

Changing locations of your crops helps to reduce the localization of insects. Even having the same crop in the same field can increase the chances of more insects.

If you can cut the number of insects in your fields, the need of insecticide goes down. This means that you are saving money because you don’t need as much insecticide if any.

Reduces weeds

Rotating your crops will help to reduce weeds in your fields. This happens because you are changing  nutrients that your soil has and needs, which helps reduce weeds.

Crop rotation disadvantages

As many benefits as there are, there are always  risks in any situation.

Less overall profitability

This occurs because you have a reduced number of acres that you can farm with your most valuable crops. So, you can’t put your most profitable crop in the biggest field every year.

Machinery diversification

Some crops need certain machinery. If you choose a crop that requires special machinery, you are spreading yourself out in terms of what machinery you use for what. This could mean that you have a particular piece of machinery for a single crop.

Decreases crop flexibility

As your crop rotation system becomes more complex, the variety you can add into the mix decreases. You are essentially locked into a particular rotation, and it is very difficult to get out of sometimes.

High initial investment

Some rotations can have a high initial investment, so it can take some time to see the benefits of the rotation.

Crop rotation chart

Planning out how to rotate  your crops is very important. One of the easiest ways to plan it out, is with a chart. The following is an example of a crop rotation chart.

Most people use a four-year rotation, but the longer your rotation is, the better. In the example I am going to use a four-year rotation.

Crop rotation definition - Crop rotation chart

Final thoughts

Implementing a crop rotation system is very important. Experienced farmers should already have something like this in place. However, if you are a new farmer, this is something you need to figure out.  It will help you maintain the health of your soil, potentially increase your yields, and decrease insects.

Below I have included some extra resources should you choose to read a more in-depth look.

 

What does your crop rotation plan look like?

Resources

Comments

  1. I can see why farmers would rotate their crops yearly to manage their soil and the benefits it has all around. Would this method help to reduce the pesticide use? Thanks for the informative read.

    • Yes it does to a certain extent.

      By rotating crops, you decrease the potential for the insect to get a stronger foothold.

      So it decreases insect pressure.

      Is it going to eliminate the use of insecticides completely? No, but definitely reduce

  2. Anonymous says:

    NICE.ANY MORE DETAIL ABOUT CROP ROTATION,OR FARM STRUCTURE.

  3. Great helps a lot for my report thx for the information 😀

  4. its not relevant

  5. Nice. Thanks for the information

  6. you really helped me

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