Agriculture and Environment: Soybeans | WWF

Agriculture and Environment: Soybeans

Better Management Practices: Fallowing & Crop Rotation

Enriched fallowing and fallowing with crop rotation are BMPs that can help rejuvenate soils that have been degraded. Fallowing (planting a cover crop and then leaving the land out of production for a period of time) allows the land to recover.
Worthwhile investment
It can be an economically profitable investment rather than a period of financial loss without production. Fallowing builds up organic matter in soil, creates surface litter that acts as mulch, and builds up populations of beneficial soil microorganisms.

Furthermore, the deep roots of some cover crops can bring to the surface nutrients such as potassium and phosphorous that are trapped in deeper recesses of the soil. Periods of fallow and crop rotations can include nitrogen-fixing plants such as legumes, or pasturing livestock on the land, to build up significant soil reserves of nitrogen.

Fallowing and crop rotation can generate annual savings that are equivalent to the profits of annual production. Fallowing also increases habitat, albeit temporarily, for many different species. However, if fallowing is undertaken on a larger scale, then habitat can be maintained within a landscape that will benefit many different species. Finally, when an area is returned to cropping after fallowing, yields increase and pesticide and fertiliser costs are reduced.


Extracts from "World Agriculture & Environment" by Jason Clay - buy the book online from Island Press

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