- Editor's Note -

Put Some Spin
On Your 2012 Crop Mix

By Carroll Smith
Editor

Most dictionaries define the word “rotation” as the circular movement of an object.

In sports, rotation is often referred to as “spin.” In tennis, the ball can have topspin and backspin. In billiards, or pool, words like English, follow and draw are used. And, of course, curve balls define a certain rotation in baseball. Staying with the sports theme, players are typically rotated in and out of games to give them a rest, so they will be fresh and ready to perform at their top potential when they come back in.

In the agriculture arena, crops are rotated so that the soil has an opportunity to be replenished since different crops have different nutritional needs.

Keith Baldwin, Western Region Program Coordinator with North Carolina A&T State University, makes some interesting observations about the benefits of crop rotations.

“Farmers in ancient cultures as diverse as those in China, Greece and Rome shared a common understanding about crop rotations,” Baldwin says. “They learned from experience that growing the same crop year after year on the same piece of land resulted in low yields, and that they could dramatically increase productivity on the land by cultivating a sequence of crops over several seasons.”

He says studies have shown that “using crop rotations can lead to dramatic increases in soil fertility, help to optimize nutrient and water use by crops and improve our soil resources.”

Over the past several years, more and more farms in the South have diversified their operations to include a mix of crops such as corn, cotton, soybeans and peanuts. They have also learned that rotating these crops to different fields each year is very beneficial to the soil and typically provides a yield increase.

In some instances, for various reasons, crop rotation is not possible in all fields. But, where it is possible, the benefits generally result in a healthier bottom line for farmers.

So give crop rotation some thought as you make plans for the upcoming growing season. And, if it works for you, put a little spin on your crop mix this year.