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Crop Rotation

crop rotation








Changing the crops grown in a field, usually season by season.

How it works

Crops are changed season by season in a planned sequence. This improves soil health and provides crop benefits over the length of the rotation. Examples of this practice might entail: a broccoli - winter wheat - sweet corn rotation; a wheat - fallow - alfalfa - potato rotation; a grass seed - small grain rotation; or other combinations depending on a variety of factors.

How it helps

  • Reduces fertilizer needs; alfalfa and other legumes replace nitrogen removed by wheat and other grain crops
  • Reduces pesticide costs and field operations by naturally breaking the cycles of weeds, insects and diseases
  • Protects water quality by preventing excess nutrients or chemicals from entering water supplies
  • Reduces soil erosion by wind and water by adding crops like hay or small grains
  • Increases soil organic matter
  • Adds diversity to an operation
  • Provides food and cover for wildlife

Planning ahead

  • Do you have a need for other crops?

Technical notes

  • Crops must be suited to your soils and climate.
  • Design crop rotations to meet the residue needs of your crop residue management plans.
  • Rotations that include small grains or hay provide better erosion control.
  • Small grains and hay can always be used to replace any row crop or low residue crop to gain better erosion control.
  • For crop rotations that include hay, the rotation can be lengthened by maintaining the existing hay stand for additional years.


  • Switch crops to maintain perennials in the rotation, if necessary.
  • Consider herbicide carryover to avoid crop failures.