Ensure Healthy Living Soil with Crop Rotation

Tanja Folnovic

Agronomy Expert

The challenge of a good crop rotation system is to grow the type and quantity of crops needed to ensure the farm’s profitability while continually building soil quality for long-term productivity. Crop rotation is both a principle of production and a tool of management. Crop rotation helps you alternate different types of plants through the same field over time to improve soil quality and health, manage pests, diseases, and weeds.. Rotation planning balances the management of field- and farm-level decisions on an annual and a multi-year basis. For example, rotations of at least five or seven years often prevent the pathogen population from building up to a level that can cause economic damage. Why use crop rotation?

  • No build up of pests and diseases
  • Soil nutrients are used effectively
  • Soil moisture is used effectively
  • A healthy living soil can be built up over time.

 Single field can be used for growing more than one crop type per year, depending on the season duration of individual crop. For example, we sow soybeans in the fall, and after that wheat in the next fall. We don't want to leave that field  empty so we sow intercrops (clover, vetch, forage kale, and other crops with short growing season). At the same time soil properties are improved for next crop. After wheat it's good to sow a culture that requires a lot of nutrients, especially nitrogen, eg. corn. From wheat harvest to sowing corn it takes a few months, and again it's best to sow intercrop. Crop rotation can also be done with two major crops, but it's recommended to sow intercrop in between.


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General principles of crop rotation for better soil management:

  • A high nitrogen demanding crop follow a legume crop
  • In the second or third year after a legume sod grow less nitrogen demanding crops
  • Grow the same annual crop for only one year
  • Don’t follow one crop with another closely related species
  • Use crop sequences that promote healthier crops
  • Use crop sequences that aid in controlling weeds
  • Use longer periods of perennial crops on sloping land
  • Try to grow a deep-rooted crop as part of the rotation
  • Grow some crops that will leave a significant amount of residue
  • When growing a wide mix of crops try grouping into blocks according to plant family, timing of crops, (all early season crops together, for example), type of crop (root vs. fruit vs. leaf), or crops with similar cultural practices.

 Agrivi lets you easily track field utilization for each field through years, as the seasons are entered. You can see in which period some plot is empty,  and then easily decide what to sow next, considering on previous crop. Thus Agrivi helps avoiding crop rotation problems, control pests and build a better soil. Remember, good organisation is the key of a successful agro-business, and Agrivi is the right tool to achieve that !