Crop rotation

Crop rotation

This is the growing of different types of crops on the same piece of land in an orderly sequence / definite order.

It is done in order to preserve and maintain soil fertility and productivity.

Factors to consider / principles to follow when designing a good crop rotation.

Heavy feeders such as maize, cotton or sweet potatoes should be planted first in the newly opened land to taka advantage of the so much available nutrients

The deep rooted crops should follow shallow rooted crops. This will allow efficient use of nutrients at different soil layers.

Crops with similar pests and diseases should not follow one another in a rotation.

Crops of the same family should not follow one another in the rotation because they have similar feeding requirements, pests and diseases.

Crops that do not provide good soil surface cover should alternate with those that provide good surface cover to control soil erosion.

The rotation should have a resting phase/fallow period planted with a grass ley to restore soil fertility.

Crops which are easy to weed should alternate with those which are difficult to weed.

Legumes such as G. nuts, beans, peas should be included in the rotation to provide nitrogen in the soil.

Advantages of crop rotation.

It breaks the life cycle of crop pests and diseases.

The legumes included add nitrogen to the soil.

It controls weeds which are specific to particular crops e.g. striga in cereals.

It checks on soil erosion by using cover crops.

There is maximum use of environmental resources by growing crops of different growth habits.

It improves the soil structure due to fallowing.

It helps to even out labour requirements over the year.

It spreads financial risks over several crops.