The Importance of a Good Crop Rotation


By Garth Donald, Dynagra

As the world grows, the agricultural industry is asked to produce more to help feed the expanding population. The main issue growers face is that urban sprawl is eating up the productive farm land.   We have less arable acres to work with as a result.  Now our crop varieties are getting better for traits like yield, disease and insect resistance and now drought tolerance but it does come back to the importance of a good crop rotation. A large portion of Western Canada is under no till seeding practices which keeps a high level of residue on the soil surface. With that residue comes both positive and negative issue that can affect yield. This is where your rotational practices come into play. Disease pathogens from a previous crop will stay on the stubble and with the proper conditions (moisture and heat) can infect the crop in the following year. For example, growing wheat on wheat, the disease pressure is higher because the pathogen is present from the previous year.  We also have pathogens in the soil which will affect the crop, so the crop is under attack from both above ground and underground. So the best way to break this cycle is by crop rotation. Placing a pulse or oilseed is usually the best way to break the disease cycle.  This is because the diseases in wheat are not the same as pulses or oilseeds.

So what if we have grow the same crop back to back? Well then we want to give that crop the best chance for success. This means using a good seed treatment to help combat soil borne diseases to start with. Then making sure you have a balanced fertility practice for the crop you are growing. We can actually create a disease issue by over applying certain nutrients when we are short others. And finally, looking at applying a foliar fungicide if the disease conditions are high.

At the end of the day a good crop rotation can help your farm budget and help minimize cost. There are many factors that we have to look at but with all of the information in front of us we can make a good decision.

Those are my thoughts,

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Categories: Agronomy / Seeding

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