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What is fallow in agriculture and its types

What is fallow in agriculture and its types

There are different cultivation techniques in the agricultural field that can make production much more efficient. One of these techniques is crop rotation from time to time and the different fallowing techniques, but what are these techniques about? What modalities exist? If you are interested in this topic and want the best information, in the following Green Ecology article we will explain what is fallow in agriculture and its types.

What is fallow in agriculture: the meaning

The meaning of fallow is the rest between sowing and cultivation that is left on a surface or agricultural land. These rest periods are usually every two or three years so that the soil recovers its nutrients and can bear the best fruits during the next planting. It is also possible to organize a three-year cropping system, in which a winter crop is sown during the first part of the year, a spring crop in the second part and at the end of the fallow year. In the fallow practice, crops are rotated to do not wear the land excessivelywhich is the basis for achieving more efficient agricultural production.

The origins of the fallow

Fallowing and crop rotation arose at late middle ages, at a time when the European population had a growing demand for food and the land was not sufficient to produce such quantity of raw materials of such quality. In this way, this system arose, which ensures that the land produces high-quality raw materials thanks to crop rotation (it is not recommended to plant the same type of crops several times in a row) and the biennial or triennial fallow of these portions of land.

The current fallowing techniques have been greatly improved compared to that period and, in addition to letting them rest, the crops are also treated to restore nutrients that they possessed and that have been worn out during the planting and cultivation processes. For this reason, fertilizers are also used to speed up the recovery process, weeds are eliminated and crop pests and diseases are controlled.

What is fallow in agriculture and its types - The origins of fallow

Types of fallow in agriculture

In general, one can distinguish between two types of fallow:

  • short fallow: In this type of fallow, the land only spends one or two years until it is cultivated again, so the land does not regenerate one hundred percent.
  • long fallow: in this type of fallow land a long period of rest between crops is contemplated, with which the land is completely regenerated.

Among farmers, it is also common to use the terms fallow year and time when the land is left to rest once a year or fallow a third, if two years of rest per year of cultivation are contemplated.

However, it is not only the amount of time that the ground is allowed to rest that matters, but also the how the fallow is applied. This is how it differs:

  • herbaceous fallow: is the fallow in which the land is completely abandoned during the rest period, that is, the land is not maintained during this time (formerly called stubble).
  • tilled fallow: it is exactly the opposite of herbaceous, since the ground is maintained during the rest period.

Another terminology used is seeded fallow, when sown during this process. Legume species are normally planted, as they enrich the soil. If nothing is sown, there is talk of white fallow.

Currently, fallow is not practiced in most of the farms, since the objective is to obtain profits on a constant basis regardless of the destruction of the soil. An exception is the extensive agriculturein which fallow is practiced together with crop rotation systems.

Crop rotation: measures

In order to get a more efficient agricultural productionit is not only necessary to practice the fallowing technique, but also to apply other processes such as conserving soil moisture, correctly choosing the herbicides to be applied, and monitoring.

  • conserve moisture: this is a fundamental process for the soil. It is especially important to conserve moisture in the top few centimeters of soil, where the seed will be located. Carrying out adequate control, between 50 and 60 millimeters of water can be retained.
  • Choice of herbicides: to choose a good treatment, you must take into account the climatic conditions, the distribution, abundance and composition of the weeds that grow, as well as the cycle of their growth and aggressiveness.
  • Monitoring: it is necessary to control the crops and their growth on the ground, identifying and eliminating the weeds that develop.

In the following article we talk about organic farming cultivation techniques.

What is fallow in agriculture and its types - Crop rotation: measures

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