crop rotation

The Amazing Benefits of Crop Rotation and How to Implement It in Your Farming Practices

Crop Rotation for Soil Health and Organic Gardening/Farming

Looking to create a more sustainable and productive agricultural system? In this video, we’ll explain the principles and benefits of crop rotation, including the advantages of a 3 or 4 year rotation cycle. We’ll also explain how this agricultural technique helps improve soil quality and increase crop yields.

Value Proposition: With crop rotation, the potential for higher yields and better soil quality can be realized. Through the implementation of a 3 or 4 year rotation cycle, farmers can start to reap the rewards of a more sustainable and efficient agricultural system.

Start to implement the principles of crop rotation in your farming operation today. Invest in the long-term future of your agricultural business and discover the benefits of a better soil quality and higher crop yields.

Shownotes/transcript for Crop Rotation at bottom of page.
The Amazing Benefits of Crop Rotation & How to Implement It in Your Farming Practices #croprotation
Crop Rotation -Farm Life and Freedom Episode 10

Timeline – Crop Rotation

00:00. Intro

00:31. Crop Rotation

00:54. What is it?

02:33. Sustainable Agriculture

04:11. How it works

05:03. Benefits

06:34. 3 Year Cycle

11:51. 4 Year Cycle

15:26. How to set it up

19:49. Challenges


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crop rotation

Crop Rotation – Transcript

Hey, everyone. Welcome back to farm life and freedom podcast. I’m your host, Amy Bell.

Welcome back to Farm Life and Freedom where we are cultivating a free life.

Today we are going to be delving back into some more gardening. Issues. Uh, things about gardening that people need to look into a little bit more closely. If you are really serious about. Making the most of what you can or do grow.

Now today’s subject is going to be all about crop rotation. I know everyone’s like glaze over the eyes and you know, a lot of people think, and I know this was me think crop rotation back from when I was a kid, I heard a little bit about it. Well, it was something about potato blight and you didn’t want to grow potatoes in the same spot because of the diseases. Okay. Well that does have something to do with it, but it’s so much more than that.

And while it can be a little confusing. It is incredibly important. And it’s something that if you put a little bit of time and effort into it, Say when you’re planning your garden. I mean, and right now, I mean, this is the time we’re, we’re in full swing. I mean, we’re, we’re harvesting, we’re, you know, we’re maintaining, we’re planting new things.

Right now we’re just kind of in the middle of gardening season. However, this is still a good time to go ahead. And plan next year’s garden. If you get it knocked out early enough. Then you can kind of sail through the fun stuff, ordering the seeds and getting that started. Okay.

We’re going to talk about crop rotation. I’m going to tell you a little bit about it. Some, some details and kind of some ideas of how to go about setting up your own crop rotation system. I’ve got my notes here so that I may not ramble. Okay. So crop rotation is a major component of sustainable agriculture.

Now. That’s something that I personally lean to for a variety of reasons. One, I liked the organic nature of it. I like the fact that I can use nature. To take care of itself. And I’m not having to spend lots of money on chemicals for my garden, to amend this and amend that. And things were much more natural. The food that I feed my family is natural. It’s healthier and we’re not going to grow third arms out of our temples and stuff.

So that’s something that I like about, Sustainable agriculture. And organic gardening crop rotation is a really, really good part of. Organic gardening, but honestly, any gardening, even if you are one who uses the chemicals and what have you, no judgment. This is one of the agricultural practices that have been around for a long time. This one is like age old.

I don’t know who. It originally came up with it. But it must’ve been a really long time ago. And they must have had some horrible thing happened and, you know, farmer Fred decided, well, I’m going to plant this stuff somewhere else and just see what happens. And it’s been happening for a long, long time.

Way way back. It’s a practice that involves growing different types of crops. In a specific order. On the same piece of land over a period of time now. Follow me on this. I know that was a really long sentence. Like multiple compounds. But the whole idea. Of. Crop rotation is you have your garden plot, whether it be, you know, one big rectangle that you grow in rows, or you have sections or raised beds, or what have you.

The whole idea of it is the things that you grow this year. In each particular spot. Don’t grow them there next year. Move them to a different location. We’re going to rotate them out. We’re going to move them around. And there’s there’s lot of benefits. To doing this. Some of the benefits are improved soil fertility.

Increased crop diversity. Reduced pest and disease. Infestations. Hallelujah. Improve water retention. Increased yields. Now that’s just to name a few. There are other benefits, but those are some of the biggies. The whole idea. Is that you are growing different crops in the same area in successive seasons. So see, when you’re looking at it, trying to figure it out, you can look at it as the area and you’re rotating crops through that particular area.

Or you can look at it as the crop. And you’re placing that crop in a new home every year for a particular, cycle for a. A set amount of years. Okay. Seasons. So you can, I mean, I guess whichever one is better for you, whichever way makes it simpler for you. Then look at it that way, but I’m going to tell you some strategies. Okay. There are various strategies.

Of how to go about doing a crop rotation plan. Now we’re going to talk about two of them. We’re going to talk about the three-year cycle and the four year cycle. Okay. In a three year cycle. You are rotating three options. Okay. That doesn’t mean three plants. You’ve got lots of different plants that you want to grow. I’m sure if you’re just like me.

Oh, man, I grow whatever I can get my hands on. But they are categorized. Into three different groups. Okay. We have heavy feeders, givers. And low feeders. Okay. So some examples of heavy feeders would include brassicas, like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, that kind of thing. Kirk.

Uh, I say this wrong every time and it’s not ‘curcubits’. It’s cucurbits okay. Cucumbers melons, squashes, that kind of thing. Lettuces spinach nightshades. So that’s the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, white potatoes. Corn heavy feeder garlic. So those are some examples. of plants that suck a lot of the nutrients out of the ground.

Okay. If you’ve followed along a little bit early on. And, um, some of my earlier episodes, I talked about soil testing and soil amending. You know, you’re you always want to be testing and helping your soil. Okay. Because it doesn’t say you may, you may have tested at the beginning of the season and think, oh man, I’ve had great soil. I don’t have to worry about this anymore.

No. Because your soil does not stay that way. We are constantly pulling things out of the soil. We are constantly adding things back into the soil. So you want to make sure that you continue your testing. So you know where your soil stands now. When you say heavy feeder. The plants that you have that are heavy feeders in those particular areas. By the end of the season, those areas are going to be mostly depleted. Of a variety of nutrients, things that plants need. So if you just continue. Say corn. Corn is a very heavy feeder needs lots of nitrogen.

And if you continue to plant corn in the same. Plot every year. And let’s say you are organic and you don’t put. You know, chemical fertilizers down. Your corn will deplete that soil. There will be nothing left for it to feed off of. And let’s say you do. Put chemical fertilizers down your corn will pull that nutrient, but it won’t be getting anything else. It won’t be adding back.

That soil will for one become over, amended at some point during the season. But also it will, it will lose its structure. The soil structure is actually quite important. The amount of organic matter that is in the soil. And, crop rotation can help a lot with that. But that’s just an idea.

Okay, so you have your heavy feeders tomatoes and what have you I’ve I grow lots of tomatoes. And normally multiple beds, no multiple, very large beds of tomatoes. So what comes after that? For me? I have to really pay attention to. Because I need my tomatoes to grow well. The, so they’re gonna suck up all the nutrients.

And then whatever comes after that has to replenish. Okay. So then the next one, after that can have something too. Okay. So now those are examples of heavy feeders. Now, examples of givers. Would be I’m sure you’ve heard. legumes, legumes, fix nitrogen that’s peas and beans clovers. They fix nitrogen from the air into the soil.

Okay. And that’s a fantastic thing. You do not have to go and purchase. Nitrogen to place in your soil. If you plant legumes, they will do the job for you and they’ll do it naturally. So those are. Givers. And then some examples of low. Feeders would be some of your root crops greens. Some of your herbs things that don’t really take a whole lot.

That is the season of rest. Okay. In a, in a three-year cycle, you have your heavy feeding season where it’s just depleting it. And then you have your giving season where everything’s being put back and then you have a rest season where everything’s just kind of hanging out growing and not really damaging the soil, you know, but not really adding a whole lot back to it either. It’s just a rest season.

So in a three-year cycle, that’s what you would do. Now we’re going to go ahead and talk about what a four year cycle looks like before we talk about how to go about putting this together. So in a four year cycle. Now. Like I said, there’s a variety of different strategies that different gardeners use when they’re coming up with a.

Um, Uh, rotation plan. And you, you want to use the one that works best for you, works best for your property. But this is, this is a couple of good examples. And something to follow. So I was trying to pick something that’s easy to follow. Okay. So in the four year cycle, here’s the order in which it goes.

You have legumes obviously those are givers. They put the nitrogen in. Then you have directly after legumes you put in the leafy greens and brassicas. Okay. Then directly after that. Is your fruiting vegetables. And then directly after that is your rooting vegetables. Okay. So legumes we talked about that peas, beans and soy beans, chickpeas, lentils, you know, all of that. That is nitrogen fixing.

Okay then. Your leafy and brassica is your lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, all of that stuff. Then your fruiting veggies, which are tomatoes, peppers, eggplants. Um, cucumbers, squashes, all of that. And then you’re rooting veggies, which turnips radishes, beets, garlic onions, carrots. So that’s the order in which they would cycle.

Okay. Now, I know you probably want to grow every single one of those every year. Right. If you’re like me, you do. So then you have to determine. Where you’re going to place them within your garden. Now I’m going to add in. Two additional elements here. Okay. Now. Recently I did an episode and, um, multiple posts on

About companion planting. Companion planting is something that goes hand-in-hand with crop rotation. It’s an element of organic gardening. It’s something that helps you to make a natural garden without having to go and spend tons of money on chemical fertilizers and all that. So companion planting will actually assist you.

in you, your rotation schedule, it’ll assist you in adding elements back to your soil, which you are depleting. The other thing. And what my next episode will cover is cover cropping. That is huge. It is something that every gardener needs to look into. Every farmer needs to look into most farmers, especially if they’re larger scale are already doing this, they, it would be difficult to not do this because your soil gets so messed up.

If. Uh, on your, on a large scale, if you’re not using a cover crop. Okay. So those two things are, um, those are, those are things you really need to look into to add to your rotation schedule. But to go back to at this point, how to implement. Your rotation cycle. Whichever one you choose, whichever way you decide to go. I’m going to give you.

Some basic tips on how to go about setting this up when you choose one. Let’s just say, I’m going to pull this back up. Let’s just say that we get, we decided to go with the three year. Cycle. Okay. Now. All that means is everything gets rotated. In three years, it’s back to the way it was. Right. So you would go heavy feeders and then givers and then low feeders. And then you’re back to heavy feeders again. Okay. And you’re, you’re that way you’re amending your soil each time as you go.

If you are like me, then you have like, Raised beds and in maybe garden spots here and there. That’s obviously, that’s what I do. And if you look at my farm tour, I showed you a bunch of that. Um,

I go, I use my, my grid paper. And I, you plan out and map out my gardens and I do this regardless, regardless of what I’m doing. I plan out and map out my gardens. And I write in what I’m planting there I write in. You know, if it failed, then I scratched it out and put something else in, you know, I’m I make sure that I keep a good chart.

Of what I’m planting in, what bit we named the beds. I’m make sure that I know what I’m doing here. Well, cause I won’t remember later if that’s something, if that hasn’t happened to you yet, just, just start writing it down because it’s going to happen to you. I promise. Okay. So you had your grid, your layout, you write ’em down.

And this is where I’ve got my tomatoes. This is where I’ve got my squash, you know, whatever. Then you look at for the next year. Go ahead and make copies of your layout. Because then for the next year, you look at that and say, okay, I have had my tomatoes here. So let’s look at my chart and that’s a heavy feeder. So what needs to go next is a giver.

And so I can pick something in the legume family. Peas beans, lentils, you know, anything that fixes nitrogen. Or going with the cover crop. I could throw in a season of Clover or something like that. Uh, some, you know, something that is a cover crop that can add back. to my soil and I skip a vegetable.

In that particular bed at that moment. Wait until the following. Um, season comes around. That is, that is a. The base way. Of setting it up your rotation schedule. Now. You go into you start researching crop rotation. One, your eyes will blur because there’s so much, so much information out there.

Some of it is extraneous. Some of it is just, okay. It’s great tips. If you are already in the midst of a great rotation scheduling, you just want to add another element. But if you’re just getting started. On crop rotation. My suggestion to you is start small. Start in the most basic way that you can and get yourself used to the idea of planning.

And mapping out and rotating your. Crops. And then start, if you want to get fancy with it afterwards, once you’re used to what you’re doing. Then start adding in this element or that element. But , that is the basis of crop rotation. And I suggest honestly, To everyone, all the gardeners that I speak with.

Once they get going. I don’t ever tell. Uh, brand new beginner gardener. Hey, you got to jump in and do some rotation. I don’t ever do that because when you’re first getting started in gardening, It’s sometimes it’s overwhelming for people, especially if they’ve never done it before. Sometimes it can be very overwhelming.

And crop rotation is something that can. All by itself can be overwhelming if you’re not prepared for it. The last thing I will say about crop rotation. Is that there are in my view, in my mind. There are. Two challenges, two main challenges, let’s say. To adopting a crop rotation schedule. The first one is the whole planning and keeping track.

Of the rotation schedule. Like I said, that’s, that’s not easy. That’s not exactly the easiest thing to do. It takes a little bit of time. Sitting down, drawing out your layout, mapping everything out. Making sure that, you know, you got it written down. Exactly what is in each particular area. And then.

Going directly to next year’s map. And go ahead and put in, okay. Tomatoes here. So next year I’m putting, you know, peas here.

If you do it that way. That will, that will make things much easier for you in the future. I think it’s the challenge there is that initial laying out initially figuring out where everything should go and when it should go there. And then the other one is if you work with raised beds or small garden plots, sometimes it’s a little bit difficult to figure out.

Well, how, how can I move this stuff around to. To make sure that, you know, everything gets grown, but not in the same place and you know, again, and then within three years or whatever, it’s not as hard. Once you get going. Okay. Once you get started and kind of get a feel for it. It becomes easier.

But take my advice on this for certain. Draw yourself out a map of your gardens. Make some copies and then just start writing it down. Put the year at the top, start writing it down. This is what we’re doing this year. So next year, this is what we’re going to do. And, um, Have some fun rotate and those crops be sure guys, and come back on the next episode and check out cover cropping. That is something that you’re definitely going to want to.

Um, check into an and for this year as well. You. The crop rotation, since we’re already in the middle of it. You’re going to be getting a schedule together if you work on it right now for the next season, but you can go ahead and get yourself together for. Um, cover cropping right now. Okay. So be sure and come back and join us for that.

Until next time you guys have a great week.

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