Crop Rotation

Crop rotation can bring great benefits to your yields, plant health and soil health, whether you’re a market gardener, homesteader or backyard grower. Crop rotation is the principle of avoiding repeating a crop with either the same crop or one in the same botanical family in successional plantings. For example, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale are all in the Brassica family, so you’d avoid planting one of these straight after another. It also involves rotating crops according to their nutrient needs, whether they are a fruit, leaf, legume or root crop.

Why Should We Rotate Crops?

The practice of rotating crops ensures variety; a cornerstone for a diverse biological system. By varying the crops going into the same place each year, you’ll help avoid pest and disease problems. This is because it disrupts the life cycle of many organisms, especially soil-borne diseases, which might otherwise be able to thrive on a continuous planting of the same crop. Some of these plant diseases can be difficult to get rid of once present, however crop rotation and avoiding the reintroduction of the affected crop for at least four years after is a good way to break the cycle.

Crop rotation also helps the garden to continue producing without detrimental effects and depletion of the soil. By looking at the different nutrient needs of plants, we can rotate in a way that provides all plants with what they need without having to constantly add compost or fertilisers. Planting crops of diverse root depths will penetrate the soil and improve its structure, as will adding organic matter. Rotating crops also helps to encourage habitat and biodiversity.