A conservation crop rotation is growing different crops on the same piece of land year after year in a planned, recurring sequence. This may include alternating row crop production with a high residue producing crop, such as corn, to a low residue producing crop like soybeans.
It also may involve a rotation to a small grain or a grass legume meadow, and may include crops planted for cover or nutrient enhancements.
How it helps
On sloping lands, crop rotations can help reduce soil erosion.
Rotations with alfalfa and other legumes reduce fertilizer needs because these plants replace some of the nitrogen removed by corn and other grain crops.
Pesticide costs may be reduced by naturally breaking the cycles of weeds, insects and diseases.
Rotations help improve soil health by adding diverse biological activity.
Grass and legumes in a rotation protect water quality by preventing excess nutrients or chemicals from entering water supplies.
Do you have a use for other crops?
Crops must be suited to your soils.
Design crop rotations to meet the residue needs of your crop residue management plan. High residue crops include: corn (grain), sorghum (grain), small grains, forages and winter cover crops.
Small grains and corn (grain) can be used to replace any low residue crop to gain better erosion control.
For crop rotations which 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.