The principle of crop rotation must to be applied, since it is a major method:

  • To maintain and improve soil fertility in the broadest sense, including soil physical- (structure), soil biological- (soil biota, positive and negative) and soil chemical aspects (nutrient reserves and organic matter composition). The interaction between crops, soil, cultivation, fertilisation and weather determines the soil fertility, which is dynamic in time and space.
  • To prevent and control pests, diseases and weeds. For instance crop rotation is very supportive for the control of weeds by creating a diversified set of growing conditions (not selecting specific species) and control options.

A good use of crop rotation can ensure an optimal quality production with a minimum of external inputs (labour) notably those that are polluting and based on fossil energy (pesticides, fertilisers, machinery and support energy).

  • Quality production is based on healthy and vital crops as determined by the crop rotation.

Crop rotation interacts strongly with nutrient management, soil cultivation, ecological infrastructure management and crop protection.
Cover or catch crops have to be considered integrally in the design of the crop rotation.

Crop rotation has a temporal and spatial dimension and can be defined as a frequency of the same crop in a certain time period on a given field.

  • For IP production crop rotation is mandatory for annual crops on the whole cultivated farm area.
  • A crop rotation must at minimum consist out of 2 crops.
    • An individual crop considered as part of the rotation should cover at least 10% of the cultivated farm area. Several crops of minor importance can be included, up to a total of 10%. A single crop can cover at maximum 50% of the surface.
  • IP guidelines can and must specify the maximum portion of individual crops in the rotation. For specific crops guidelines can define the maximum proportion of the surface occupied by a specific crop and/or cropping interval (year or crop cycle).
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