Crop rotation has been used since Roman times to improve plant nutrition and to control the spread of disease. A study published in Nature’s The ISME Journal reveals the profound effect it has on enriching soil with bacteria, fungi and protozoa. “Changing the crop species massively changes the content of microbes in the soil, which in turn helps the plant to acquire nutrients, regulate growth and protect itself against pests and diseases, boosting yield,” said Professor Philip Poole from the John Innes Centre. Soil was collected from a field near Norwich and planted with wheat, oats and peas. After growing wheat, it remained largely unchanged and the microbes in it were mostly bacteria. Crop rotation by growing oat and pea in the same sample caused a huge shift toward protozoa and nematode worms.
This article appears in the November 2013 issue of Acres U.S.A.