What are the benefits of crop rotation

Crop rotation

The crop rotation describes the chronological succession of different crops in a field. The crop rotation adapted to a location is part of good agricultural practice. Crop rotation is the prerequisite for maintaining soil fertility. With crop rotations, the depletion of nutrients in the soil is prevented and the pressure of diseases, pests and weeds is reduced.

The crop rotation economy is very old. Historically, a distinction was made between the two-, three- and four-field economy. For example, until around 800 AD, grain was grown exclusively in monoculture. If the areas were exhausted, they moved on and opened up new areas. From the 9th century one began with the three-field economy. A two-year extension was followed by a one-year fallow land. In the 18th century, forage crops and later leaf crops such as potatoes and beets were grown on the fallow land. Since then, the crop rotation systems have been continuously improved and supplemented.

In conventional agriculture it is possible to add nutrients using mineral fertilizers. From the exclusive point of view of the nutrient supply of crops, crop rotations would no longer be absolutely necessary. Due to the many positive effects, crop rotations are part of good agricultural practice and are practiced by farmers.

In addition to the greatest possible versatility, attention is paid to crop rotations that mutually incompatible crops are separated from one another by longer periods of time. For example, the balance between leaf (potato, beet) and strawberry is an important principle. Fallow land such as was necessary in classic two- or three-field farming can be avoided through good crop rotation. This increases productivity on an area, which, in addition to making an important ecological contribution, also contributes to securing food for a growing world population. For ecological reasons, fallow land (set-aside) is practiced again today and, for example, rewarded by the agricultural policy in the European Union.

The choice of the type and size of the crops to be grown in a crop rotation is determined by the regional site conditions but also by the economic necessities. The orientation of the species selection must guarantee the economic success as well as the sustainability of the production. The opposite of crop rotation is monoculture.