Crop Rotation: Improves Soil Health and Yields
Crop rotation was practiced by farmers in ancient Rome, Greece and China. Ancient Middle Eastern Farmers rotated crops as early as 6000 BC. Crop rotations improve soil tilth, reduce pest, weed and disease pressure and increase biodiversity on the farm. By varying the crops planted in the same field season to season, farmers can improve soil tilth (the physical condition of the soil as it relates to plant growth). Different plants have diverse root shapes and sizes that can improve the chemical, physical and biological structure of the soil in a variety of ways.
Crop rotations can also reduce pest and disease pressure because different plants disrupt the lifecycle of certain pests and diseases. A variety of plants provide a wider variety of nutrients to soil life, and different plants take up dissimilar nutrients from the soil. So, rotating crops will help to minimize the depletion of certain nutrients. All of these benefits can help reduce inputs (fertilizers and pesticides) and increase yields. According to SARE (Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education), “Yields of crops grown in rotations are typically 10% higher than those of crops grown in monoculture in normal growing seasons, and as much as 25% higher in droughty growing seasons.” NCAT (The National Center for Appropriate Technology) provides crop rotation tips.