Crop rotation is a practice that has been practiced for centuries. However, the concept of letting fields lay fallow didn’t come about until the 11th century, when farmers finally adopted the three plot planting system. This was also due, in part, to developments of using horses for agricultural work around this time. (UH.)
Crop rotation is more than just moving crops from one area to another over planting seasons. It is a way to manage soil quality and maintain farm production over the long-term. “At the farm management level, crop rotations are used to diversify income, spread labor requirements throughout the year, and spread the crop loss risk associated with weather and pests across two or more crops. Rotations are also used to increase crop productivity by enhancing soil quality. In terms of soil management, crop rotations are used to:
- Manage weed, insect, and disease pests
- Reduce soil erosion by wind and water
- Maintain or increase soil organic matter
- Provide biologically fixed N when legumes are used in the rotation
- Manage excess nutrients”
Why is this crop rotation sustainable?
Because of the advent of pesticides, soil nutrient additives and GMO crops, crop rotation has stopped. Due to this, soil is losing nutrient density at an alarming rate, which only exacerbates the needs for more pesticides and more GMO crops. However, with crop rotation, the soil is allowed to restore it’s nutrients in order to feed growing crops properly. Due to this, the use of harmful soil and groundwater additives are mitigated. To us, this is a sustainable practice whereby fields are maintained through smart investments in time, planning and execution without the addition of chemicals to the ground.
Crop rotation isn’t just for farms, though. According to Bob Randall of Urban Harvest and Mother Earth News, crop rotating is a great way to manage soil at home. If you’re an avid backyard harvester, crop rotation may just give you greater yields and greater use of your land over the long term. Try it out with their tips!