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Crop rotation

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**Historical Development of Crop Rotation**:
– Farmers recognized suitable rotations since 6000 BC.
– Ancient Near Eastern farmers alternated legumes and cereals.
– Two-field systems were used in China since the Eastern Zhou period.
– Farmers in Europe transitioned to three-field systems from Charlemagne’s time.
– The four-field rotation was pioneered in Waasland and popularized by Charles Townshend.
– George Washington Carver studied crop-rotation methods in the US.

**Crop Rotation Practices and Benefits**:
Crop rotation balances profitability and productivity.
– Crops contribute to soil organic matter content.
– They provide for pest management and manage deficient or excess nutrients.
– Rotation effect on yield and reduction in production costs.
– Improved soil structure, nutrition, and water retention benefits.
– Alleviation of negative factors of monoculture and distribution of financial risks.

**Crop Types and Their Role in Crop Rotation**:
– Row crops: Profitable but taxing on the soil with low biomass and shallow roots.
– Legumes: Fix nitrogen, store it in nodules, improve soil tilth, and benefit future crops.
– Grasses and cereals: Common cover crops crucial in weed management and soil structure.
Green manure: Crop mixed into the soil for nutrient scavenging and nitrogen fixation.

**Implementation and Planning of Crop Rotation**:
– Factors to consider: market conditions, farm size, labor availability, climate, and soil type.
– Importance of crop condition for succeeding crops and planning nitrogen-fixing crops before nitrogen-depleting ones.
– Enrichment with livestock and manure, monoculture vs. polyculture practices, and mixed farming for nutrient cycling.
– No limit on the number of crops or time for rotation completion.

**Environmental Impact and Sustainability of Crop Rotation**:
– Reducing soil erosion through crop rotation.
– Weed management and pest control benefits.
– Biodiversity enhancement and nutrient availability.
– Contribution to the carbon cycle and climate change mitigation.
– Role in agroecology, convertible husbandry, and tillage erosion control.

Crop rotation (Wikipedia)

Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of different types of crops in the same area across a sequence of growing seasons. This practice reduces the reliance of crops on one set of nutrients, pest and weed pressure, along with the probability of developing resistant pests and weeds.

Effects of crop rotation and monoculture at the Swojec Experimental Farm, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences. In the front field, the "Norfolk" crop rotation sequence (potatoes, oats, peas, rye) is being applied; in the back field, rye has been grown for 58 years in a row.

Growing the same crop in the same place for many years in a row, known as monocropping, gradually depletes the soil of certain nutrients and selects for both a highly competitive pest and weed community. Without balancing nutrient use and diversifying pest and weed communities, the productivity of monocultures is highly dependent on external inputs that may be harmful to the soil's fertility. Conversely, a well-designed crop rotation can reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers and herbicides by better using ecosystem services from a diverse set of crops. Additionally, crop rotations can improve soil structure and organic matter, which reduces erosion and increases farm system resilience.

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