SoilOptix® Blog

Why Opt for Soil Mapping in USA in between Crop Rotation Intervals?

Crop rotation is integral to sustainable farming, used to prevent soil erosion and nutrient depletion, suppress weeds, and occasionally combat the pests and diseases. Crop rotation is like the farmer’s version of Sudoku. It involves strategy, expert placement, and zero guessing to yield healthy crops with the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly results. While the crop rotation system is not always practiced, its ecological and the agronomic benefits are indisputable.

Numerous farms have succeeded with this approach, all thanks to the joint efforts of the scientists and farmers to build crop rotation strategies and techniques by employing soil mapping in the USA. Technological advancements have made it much simpler to keep track of plantings and evaluate their impacts over extended periods, which also contribute to the increasing adoption of crop rotation worldwide.

Why Is Crop Rotation Important?

To answer this question, it’s best to look at real-world examples.

For instance, one of the reasons it’s illegal to bring unsealed food into the U.S. is because fruit, rice, and other foods can harbor potentially harmful pathogens. Pathogens cause plant diseases and can be especially dangerous to those with weakened immune systems.

As particular pathogens are fond of specific crops, continuous cropping (a technique where crops are planted in the same plot of land they previously inhabited) can quickly raise soil-borne pathogen levels.

Rotating what type of crops are planted in a singular field also helps to balance out the soil nutrients that are depleted after a crop has been harvested. That crop removed nutrients from the soil while growing, and by planting that same crop year after year, those same nutrients will continue to deplete, despite inputs being applied to combat this.

To solve this issue, farmers can implement crop rotation, which naturally disrupts the spread of disease by planting crops that are not hosts to specific pathogens, and ensures that the soil is not being depleted of the same nutrients repeatedly.

Planting diverse rotation crops keeps the soil healthy and balanced, breaks disease cycles, and allows better water infiltration.

soil mapping USA

Source: Freepik

Why Sample Your Soil or Opt for Mapping?

Sampling your soil once every year is still the ideal recommendation for tracking your soil nutrients, but if once a year isn’t feasible, consider increasing your frequency. It is highly recommended that you sample your soil layer between the cropping intervals.

It helps keep track of your soil layer’s nutrient count, which is vital for your crops. Frequent soil testing helps farmers to decide whether their current management is robbing off future productivity and profits. Combined with the local calibration data from research findings, soil testing is the best guide for determining nutrient needs for the growing crops. Soil testing to provide a balanced fertility program is a crucial component of sustainable farming programs that are profitable, efficient, and environmentally responsible.

Planning Out Crop Rotation for Your Plot:

Careful planning is the foremost step in incorporating crop rotation. For smoother planning, it’s helpful to create uniformly sized sections of land. These plots of land can be further subdivided to accommodate the shorter plans or to cater to the varying production needs.

The same or very closely related plants should not be grown in too close succession, so it is critical to separate them by family. Dividing plants into subgroups depending on their cultural and management needs, physical characteristics, growth patterns, harvesting times, and more may also be recommendable. Adjustments to a short-rotation system, like switching to a different plant variety or introducing greener manures, should also be made.

The following are the most prominent strategies you can use so far to implement crop rotation effectively:

  • Rotate by Plant Family

This is the most widely used technique, which involves introducing different plant families on a field in a seasonal, sequential fashion, often over four years.

  • Rotate by Harvested Plant Part

It’s a standard practice to alternate between picking the legumes, leaves, fruits, and roots throughout this entire cycle. Though the approach relies solely on the gathered plant parts, it incorporates certain fundamental concepts. Plants of different families and varying rooting depths are usually used, and legumes are often planted as restorative plants.

  • Rotate by Plant Compatibility

When planning a rotation cycle, it is essential to consider which plants complement one another. As this crop rotation example reflects, sweet corn is often highly recommended as a pre-potato plant due to its considerable positive impact on potato growing and yield.

  • Rotate According to Nutrient Requirements

Guided by soil mapping in the USA, this approach typically entails planting legumes first, then followed by heavy feeders like tomatoes or corn the next year.

  • Rotate by Rooting Depth and Type

This technique necessitates you to alternate between growing plants with deep as well as shallow roots, like beets and cauliflower, on a single plot of land.

  • Include Legumes and Cover Plants

A grass or a tiny grain planted in the fall season will use unused nitrogen from the preceding maize or soybeans. Legumes aren’t as good at reusing nitrogen as grasses, but they enrich the soil so the next plant can benefit. Combinations of the legumes and grasses perform admirably in both settings


Different farms specialize in the various types of crops. However, monocropping and monoculture farming reduce land fertility over time, resulting in lower agricultural output and a greater reliance on chemical fertilizers. Monitoring and analyzing vegetation changes over time, in addition to tracking weather data, are crucial for making educated decisions about the long-term viability of a field for producing a particular crop variety or switching to crop rotation.

Precision agriculture-guided crop monitoring can provide a comprehensive suite of field monitoring functions for optimal crop rotation planning and implementation. Precision agriculture platforms mainly help track when crops are planted and harvested and how they relate to one another across different fields. This data paints a much clearer picture of a farm’s state and provides the power to develop a sustainable agriculture strategy. Agriculture producers may very well use this information to guide their crop rotation strategies.

If you need help to check your plot’s nutrient levels, rely on our soil experts. Visit now!