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COG Organic Field Crop Handbook
2.4 Where to Start in the Rotation
When making the change from conventional to organic farming, the best crops to start the crop rotation are usually pasture, a hay crop or annual legume. Some of the options and other useful guidelines are given below.
¥ It is not a good idea to begin your first crop rotation with corn because it is too nutrient-demanding and delays soil improvement.
¥ When beginning the transition, apply compost to as many acres as possible, even if it is only a light application. Its value is in its capacity to stimulate biological activity, rather than in the nutrients it supplies.
¥ A good way to start a crop rotation is to plow down a hay field to a depth of about 4 inches, (summer or fall), and follow with a thorough seedbed preparation. Seeding the field with a green manure crop (rye or buckwheat) is recommended.
¥ If all the fields have been seeded with cash crops, underseed with red clover to improve the soil without taking land out of production. Over-winter the clover, and incorporate it into the soil in the spring and begin the rotation.
¥ For a cash crop rotation start with buckwheat; it provides good weed control.
¥ Choose crops with which you are familiar.
Copyright © 1992 Canadian Organic Growers. Inc
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
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