Crop Rotation - Core 4

Crop Rotation

Crop Rotation is changing the crops grown in a field, from year to year.

How it works

Crops are changed year by year in a planned sequence. Crop rotation is a common practice on sloping soils because of its potential for soil saving. Rotation also reduces fertilizer needs, because alfalfa and other legumes replace some of the nitrogen corn and other grain crops remove.

How it helps

Pesticide costs may be reduced by naturally breaking the cycles of weeds, insects and diseases.
Grass and legumes in a rotation protect water quality by preventing excess nutrients or chemicals from entering water supplies.
Meadow or small grains cut soil erosion dramatically.
Crop rotations add diversity to an operation.

Planning ahead

Do you have use for other crops?
Cover crops may help in crop rotation.

Tech notes

Crops must be suited to your soils.
Design crop rotations to meet the residue needs of your crop residue management plans.
Rotations that include small grains or meadow provide better erosion control.
Small grains and meadow can always be used to replace any row crop or low residue crop to gain better erosion control.
Corn (grains) can always be used to replace soybeans or any other low residue crop in the rotation to gain better erosion control.
For crop rotations which include hay (meadow) the rotation can be lengthened by maintaining the existing hay stand for additional years.
Avoid planting a grass after a grass if possible.


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