Chapter 7

Crop Rotation on Organic Farms

(book excerpts)

Crop rotation is a valuable management tool for organic farmers, which involves the cultivation of different crops in temporal succession on the same land chiefly to preserve the productive capacity of the soil. Usually the succeeding crop will be of a different variety and species than the previous crops. Crop rotations can be as simple as rotating between two crops and planting sequences in alternate years or they can be more complex and involve numerous crops over several years. Crop rotations can break host cycles for pests and diseases. Alternation of crops with different seasonal patterns and growth habits can also help to suppress weeds. Properly managed rotations can also increase microbiological diversity and activity; raise organic matter content; conserve soil; and enhance soil structure. Even simple rotations over a short time period significantly improved soil quality in controlled experiments. Rotations often include a “rest” period for individual fields, where grass or a “green manure” such as clover is planted for a season or more, before being grazed or ploughed into the soil to add fertility.

Click on the following topics for more information on crop rotation on organic farms.

Topics Within This Chapter:

  • National Organic Program Standards for Crop Rotation
  • National Organic Program Crop Rotation Practice Standard
  • Maintain and Improve Organic Matter
  • Provide Pest Management
  • Manage Deficient or Execess Plant Nutrients
  • Provide Soil Erosion
  • Perennial Cropping Systems
  • Certifying Agencies
  • Benefits of Crop Rotation
  • Soil Properties
  • Nitrogen Contributions from Legumes
  • Nutrient Recycling
  • Disease Management
  • Insect Management
  • Weed Management
  • Soil Moisture Utilization
  • Improvement in Crop Yields
  • Added Benefits
  • Management of Diseases with Crop Rotation
  • Crop Rotation Periods for Reducing Pathogens
  • Pathogen Suppressive Crops
  • Crop Rotation Considerations in Managing Diseases
  • Diseases Controlled by Crop Rotation
  • Bacterial Speck of Tomato
  • Bacterial Spot of Pepper and Tomato
  • Club Root
  • Ergot
  • Lettuce Drop
  • Take-all Root Rot
  • White Mold
  • Limitations of Crop Rotation in Controlling Diseases
  • Management of Insect Pests with Crop Rotation
  • Insects Controlled by Crop Rotation
  • Mangement of Nematodes with Crop Rotation
  • Nematodes Controlled by Crop Rotation
  • Nematode Supressive Crops
  • Management of Weeds with Crop Rotation
  • Plants with Allelopathic Properties
  • Crop Rotation Principles for Controlling Weeds
  • Follow Poor Competitor Crops with Strong Competitor Crops
  • Rotate Between Crops Having Different Characteristics
  • Rotate Between Crops with Planting Different Seasons
  • Adopt Different Cropping Strategies
  • Include Fallow Periods in the Rotation
  • Rotate between Annual Crops and Perennial Sod Crops
  • Work Cover Crops into Crop Rotations
  • Crop Rotation Considerations
  • Botanical Family
  • Growing Cool and Warm Season Crops
  • Crop Rooting Depth
  • Crop Nutrient Demands
  • Crop Rotation Periods
  • Cover Crops
  • Carbon-to-Nitrogen Ratio
  • Potential Problems with Cover Crops
  • Manure Application
  • Organic Matter Contribution
  • Tillage Practices
  • References