Crop rotations have been at the center of agricultural systems throughout history. The right rotation can improve soil nutrition, breaks pest and disease cycles, and improves weed control. They can also be used to minimize a field’s average rate of erosion.
AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager Paul Hill says: “There’s nothing new about looking at rotations or cover crops, but we now need to bring innovative ideas into farming to meet the challenges of the future: resistance, regulation, and, biggest of all, climate change.”
Incorporating grass or legume into a rotation can help reduce erosion and improve soil structure. When a legume is utilized in the rotation, nitrogen fertilizer may not be required. Phosphorus and potassium are accumulated in other crops. Crop rotation is also a crucial component of an integrated pest control (IPM) program.
The right rotation results in improved yields, lower emissions, and less land degradation. We all know this, but are we choosing the right rotations in our planning?
The Value of Crop Rotation:
Plant Nutrition 🌾 Different amounts and type of minerals from the soil are used by different crops. If the same crop is grown every year, the soil will not have enough nutrients needed for the plant to thrive.
Soil Structure 🌏 Different crops grow to a range of depths and have distinct root systems. Rotation expose the soil to different rooting depths. By not just growing shallow depth crops, but also deep diggers that gradually can deepen the topsoil.
Insect Control 🐞: Insects have the ability to overwinter in your soil and invade your plants’ leaves and vines in the spring. When you rotate, these insects are exposed to a plant that they did not expect dn may not eat.
Disease Prevention 🦠: Plant diseases, like insects, can spend the winter in the leaves, roots, and vines of your plants. Crop rotation helps to prevent these diseases from returning the next year.
Water Quality 💧 : Reduced sediment loss, as well as losses of dissolved and sediment-attached nutrients and pesticides, can enhance surface water quality. Deep-rooted sod crops, which may utilise nutrients from deep in the soil profile, can minimise nitrogen losses to groundwater.
Now, how can fieldmargin help!
fieldmargin combines the visual aspect of a map with the field history and area calculations of a spreadsheet to make planning rotations on your farm a breeze.
Easily plan new crop rotations on the map and quickly seeing what you grow previously.
Using farm years on fieldmargin you can easily see how different field layouts would look directly from the map. If you want to grow 100 ha of oilseed rape on your farm in 2023 you can use Farm Years to help you plan the best locations. In this case, you may want to plant this in fields that had Winter Wheat in the previous cropping year and that are close together.
Using Set Field Usage you can see previous usages when you hover the mouse over a field and select fields that are close together or all of your fields that previously had a particular crop using the list.
As you select fields the total area is shown at the top. Once you set the usage your fields are updated so that you can see the fields where you plan to have oilseed rape on the map.
Depend less on spreadsheets by using fieldmargin to automatically view total crop areas by year.
You can easily see a summary of the totals for each field usage on your farm for each Farm Year on your field list. This means it quick to check this information for audits and subsidy schemes.
Access historic details about your fields while out and about on the farm
Innovation and making the best decisions relies on not just keeping accurate records but also having easy access to the facts and figures. Now farm tasks and notes are separated by field year as well as being attached to fields. This means you can quickly look back to the previous year field uses and find important historic details such as spray records, key crop dates and yields. Great for on farm discussions with your agronomist and advisers.
We plant table onions on a 2 year rotation and seed onions on a 3 year rotation. It makes the planning a lot easier because I can see the previous field usageCordre Smith, Grootvlakte farm, SA
Are you interested in using fieldmargin on your farm? It’s free to get started and make an account.
You can find out more about our plans and pricing here. Our plus plan which includes full mapping with sub-fields, field records with inputs and yields, reporting, costings for Gross Margin calculation and data export.
If you have any questions or need help getting started you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org