One way to avoid the excessive exhaustion of soil nutrients in agricultural lands is to practice crop rotation. By planting different crops in the same soil one season after the other, the unhealthy build up of pathogens is avoided. Pests that favor one type of crop don’t have the chance to proliferate once you change to a different type of crop. The soil structure is improved and the soil remains fertile especially when shallow-rooted plants are alternated with ones that grow deep roots.
Below is simple way to rotate crops.
- Choose a section of you land for crop rotation.
- Divide this section into three.
- Select the three crops that you will plant and assign them one section of the land each. For example, you can plant wheat, corn and soybeans.
- Plant the three crops in their corresponding sections.
- Harvest the three crops after one season.
- Rotate the three crops the following planting season.
- Harvest the three crops then repeat the rotation process.
- Continue rotating the three crops in the three sections each planting season.
Rotating vegetables in your garden
If you want to rotate plants in your vegetable garden, here’s what you do:
1. List the different vegetables you want to cultivate in you plot. Make sure to group them according to their plant family. Some common plant families are:
- Alliums – chives, garlic, onions, leeks, shallots
- Brassica – broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale
- Cucurbitaceae - cucumbers, melons, squash, watermelons, zucchini
- Legume – beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, soy
- Solanaceae crops – eggplants, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes
2. Make your vegetable garden plan. On a piece of paper (or on the computer) draw your land, section the plot and indicate where the plants will be grown on the plot. Plants from one family should be grown together. Label your drawing with the date when you started planting.
3. Plant and cultivate your vegetable garden according to your plan.
4. Harvest your produce.
5. Rotate the vegetables the following planting season. Make sure to follow a 3 to 5 year planting rotation. This means that one plant family will not be planted in their original location until after 3 to 5 years.
Things to remember
- The nature of your land’s soil, the climate in your region including the amount of rain or precipitation that your soil receives will determine the plants to be cultivated as well as the sequence of crop rotation.
- Tomatoes and squash are considered heavy-feeding crops. They require lots of nutrients from the soil, especially nitrogen. Planting these types of crops in a plot that was previously planted with legumes is a good strategy. Legumes replenish the nitrogen content of the soil.
- Remove and properly dispose plants that are affected by disease and pests.
- Know which plants can be planted every year. Pumpkins, according to some scientist, should only be planted every 7 years.
Farmers practice crop rotation to ensure a good harvest from their soil every planting season. By rotating your crops, you keep the soil fertile, curb the proliferation of pests and protect your plants from diseases that have established in the soil over a period of time. Practice crop rotation for a continuous harvest of healthy vegetables and other crops.