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Successive cultivation of different crops in a specified order on the same fields. Some rotations are designed for high immediate returns, with little regard for basic resources. Others are planned for high continuing returns while protecting resources. A typical scheme selects rotation crops from three classifications: cultivated row crops (e.g., corn, potatoes), close-growing grains (e.g., oats, wheat), and sod-forming, or rest, crops (e.g., clover, clover-timothy). In general, cropping systems should include deep-rooting legumes. In addition to the many beneficial effects on soils and crops, well-planned crop rotations make the farm a more effective year-round enterprise by providing more efficient handling of labour, power, and equipment, reduction in weather and market risks, and improved ability to meet livestock requirements.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on crop rotation, visit Britannica.com.