Crop rotation and four –field crop rotation

All plants need nutrients. Similar plants need similar proportions of the same substances, and are prone to the same diseases, fungi, nematodes, and insects. So always putting the same crop on the same land creates exhaustion of the soil, and maintains diseases and insect pests. To break the degradation of the cultivation and to not exhaust the soil, rotation is applied.

croprotationFor a good crop rotation is a diagram used to follow up the various plants per plot. The plants are divided into groups that are susceptible to the same diseases, such as cereals. The cycle may comprise, for example 4 years.

Charlemagne (742-814) introduced the three-field system: winter cereals (wheat or rye), spring cereals (barley or oats) and fallow (let rest unprocessed) followed each other. Later, the rotation was complicated because there were more crops, and there was also fertilized.

Already in the 16th century, the three-field system was replaced by the four- field crop rotation, in which lie fallow was replaced by turnips, clover, root crops and grasses. Because of this fodder more cattle could overwinter, and there was more manure.
Shamrock converts nitrogen from the air into nitrate.

It's a good idea to give a plot that is harvested a while to the pigs or chickens: they pick a postharvest off, fertilize it, are tossing it around and eat a lot of insects.

In the vegetable garden more different crops are grown. For the rotation (crop rotation) crops are classified by family or type. There are several common formats.

  • legumes: bean, pea, bean
  • cruciferous broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radishes, rutabaga, turnip greens, etc.
  • Umbelliferae: carrot, celery
  • Compositae: endive, chicory, lettuce
  • amaranth family: beetroot, spinach, Swiss chard
  • onion family: leeks, garlic, shallots, chives, onion
  • cucumber family: pickle, cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin, melon
  • nightshade family: potatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomato

The cycle depends on the crop. Pea, broad bean, onion, leek, carrot, celery and cabbage can come back every 6 years; potato, gherkins and beetroot and other vegetables every 4 to 3 years. Do you have a pest, then provide more meantime.
Potatoes may suffer of soil exhaustion caused by (bottom cysts) nematodes that survive long, pea after bean may suffer from fusarium foot rot and beet after grass burden of larvae. Clubroot is a kind of stubborn root parasite. Contaminated soil remains contaminated. Preventive rotation from 4 to 7 years is recommended.

Another classification of crop groups has the advantage that crops of the same family ask about the same care of a plot (fertilization, soil structure, liming, acidity...). A structure with 8 to 12 plots may be sufficient alternate. For ex. potatoes (early and late) can be used on 2 or 3 plots. Apply a schedule to your needs. Put preferably every 2 weeks ten times three coals that you use, than 30 at a time. (Except when for winter stock.)

  • Leafy vegetables (endive, lettuce, celery, parsley, purslane,..)
  • Cabbages (cauliflower, turnip cabbage, Brussels sprouts,...)
  • Fruit vegetables (peppers, cucumber, pumpkin, tomato,...)
  • Root vegetables (salsify, chicory, parsnip, beetroot, carrots..)
  • Legumes (peas, beans)
  • Perennial plants
  • Herbs, strawberry, compost
  • Potatoes (possibly followed by a green manure crop.)

Two farmers bluffing against each other.”I have such a large country, it took me two days to drive around it.”

Said the other.” I've had such a car too.”