Crop Rotation

From Antivist

A crop rotation is a multiple year plan for what crops you will grow in a particular field. A rotation means that you will plant different crops in the same field. Continuous cropping or monoculture is different from rotation because you plant the same crop in a field year after year. A rotation is especially important because certain crops add nutrients to the soil and other crops take nutrients from the soil. A common rotation plan is to follow corn with soybeans, then winter rye, then hay, then again to corn.

This nitrogen cycle that was breifly discussed above is used in what farmers call a crop rotation. Farmers use soybeans and other legumes in roatations with grass crops such as corn or wheat. Grass crops are unable to take their own nitrogen from the air so they either need the nitrogen in the soil that the legumes provide for them in a crop rotation or they need a chemical fertilizer containing nitrogen. Many farmers choose to use both. Most farmers use a two or four year rotation on their fields. In a two year rotation a farmer will alternate a year of a legume such as soybeans and a year of a grass crop such as corn. In a four year rotation a farmer will alternate back and forth between legumes and grass crops just as in a two year rotation, but instead he will use four differnt crops. For example, a farmer may plant a rotation of soybeans, corn, alfalfa (a legume), then wheat (a grass).

Often farmers plan a fallow period for their fields, or in other words, give the fields a vacation from producing crops. One way in which to renew soil nutrients is to allow livestock to graze in old fields. In these pastures the animals' manure will decompose and replenish the soil so that it can continue to support crops. View the layout of your farm. With the layout, plan your rotation for the next three years. Indicate which acres you will leave fallow (F), which you will allocate as pasture (P), and which ones you will use to plant crops (C).

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