What is Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is the practice of switching the family or type of crops grown in a plot each year. This cycling helps to maintain soil health and break up disease and pest cycles. As a result, proper crop rotation can reduce the need for fertilizer and pesticides.

Benefits of Crop Rotation

Growing the same plants year after year in the same location depletes the soil. Different kinds of plants have different nutritional needs . For example, fruit bearing plants such as tomatoes are heavy nutrient feeders. Legumes, on the other hand, put nitrogen back into the soil through the process of nitrogen fixation. Cultivating a healthy soil means that less fertilizer is required for good yields.

Pests and diseases tend to target one family of plants. Growing plants of the same family in the same plot year after year increases the likelihood of disease and pest problems. Diseases can contaminate the soil and pests can lie in wait for the next seasons crops. Switching between plant families helps to break the cycle of disease and pest problems thereby reducing the need for chemical pesticides.

Finding the Right Crop Rotation Plan

Simple crop rotation diagram from Bonnie Plants

There are many crop rotation plans out there of varying complexity, but they all take advantage of the benefits of switching up the families of crops grown. A simple plan we like follows the pattern of legume, root, fruit, leaf, repeat. The succession reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides by keeping the soil healthy. That being said, crop rotation plans are flexible and variable. For example, if desired you can leave a field fallow or plant a cover crop rather than planting legumes. If this simple rotation doesn’t work for you, there are tons of other crop rotation methods out there, we are confident you can find one that fits your needs. For more information on crop rotations and examples of other crop rotation plans, check out the links in the references section.