Island farmers know that good soil conservation begins with adequate crop rotations. Growing potatoes no more than once every three years on the same piece of land is a generally accepted practice. In fact, some farmers are searching for other viable crops to increase the rotation to four or five years.
|By rotating the potato crop with cereals and forages benefits can be realized including:|
|Improved soil organic matter levels which in turn improves aggregate stability and soil structure, offering a greater resistance to both wind and water erosion and increasing moisture holding capacity.|
Increased rooting depth as a result of improved soil structure. This provides plants with a potentially greater nutrient and moisture supply and ensures a healthier, more vigorous crop.
A good example of a crop rotated field
|Reduced soil compaction resulting in both improved soil drainage and moisture holding capacity, with less surface runoff. Intensive cropping of potatoes, requiring heavy equipment, is a major cause of soil compaction. Cereal and forage crops require fewer field operations.|
Improved soil fertility and weed control. Rotations with legumes such as clover can reduce the nitrogen-fertilizer requirements and increase yields.
Rotated crops with hedgerows
|Reduced incidence of disease, insects and fungi in potato production systems. Rotations can break the cycle of pests, reducing the need for costly alternative control measures.
Improved crop quality and marketable yields.
Rotated and countoured fields