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Table 6

Rules for Designing an Effective Conversion Rotation

(adapted from Vogtmann et al., 1986a)

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1. Deep-rooted crops should follow shallow-rooting crops -- helps keep soil structure open and assists drainage.

2. Alternate between crops with high and low root biomass -- high root biomass, especially pasture grasses, provides soil organisms, particularly earthworms, with food.

3. Nitrogen-fixing crops should alternate with high-N-demand crops -- aim to meet all of the farm's N requirements from within the system.

4. Slow-growing crops, which are more susceptible to weed invasion, should follow weed suppressing crops.

5. Where risks of disease or soil-borne pest problems exist, potential host crops should only occur in the rotation at appropriate time intervals (e.g., brassicas, potatoes).

6. Catch crops, green manures, and undersowing techniques should be used, whenever possible, to keep the soil covered -- reduces erosion and nutrient leaching, particularly in winter.

7. Consider also:

* suitability of individual crops with respect to climate and soil;

* balance between cash and forage crops;

* seasonal labour requirements and availability;

* cultivation and tillage operations.

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Copyright 1990 Ecological Agriculture Projects


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