Rotations

Make them work for you and your soil

For centuries, our arable farming systems were based on the Norfolk four-course rotation which originated in the East of England. Rotations consisted of two cash crops and two crops to feed livestock and would have included legumes for fertility building, and livestock to graze and provide manure directly to the field.

The last sixty years have seen many farms replace the fertility building phase and livestock with artificial fertilisers. While allowing much shorter rotations, this has had unintended consequences for soil organic matter (SOM) levels and soil structure. However, where crop rotations tend to be longer we are seeing higher levels of organic matter. A recent review of studies from all over the world demonstrated that organically managed soils are 21% higher in SOM.

The main components of an organic or agroecological rotation are:

Author: Haydn Evans

Head of Farming Cymru

Haydn farms 97 hectares with his wife Janet and son Stuart. The farm is principally Dairy consisting of 100 milking cows supplying milk to Rachel's Dairy in Aberystwyth, where the milk is used for the manufacture of yogurts. The cows are a mixture of traditional breeds being British friesian, dairy shorthorns and Ayrshires. The farm is in rotation principally stubble turnips, wheat, whole top, red/white clover grass ley.

Last year Stuart became head of holding following successful completion of his MSC in organic agriculture. Whilst Haydn now focuses on young stock management. 

In addition to chairing the Soil Association farmers and growers board Haydn also acts as a farmer member of the Agricultural Land Tribunal.