Did Farmers of the Past Know More Than We Do?
Verlyn Klikenborg explores the historic roots of crop rotation – used for thousands of years without the understanding of modern soil chemistry to improve soil fertility and crop yields. Unfortuanetly crop rotation has occasionally fallen out of favor and been forgotten historically – such as in the Middle Ages when land was merely left fallow to restore soil fertility. Today, in modern industrial agriculture it has been all but forgotten again, save the two-crop system of soy and corn, replacing careful rotation and application of on-farm fertilizer with chemical inputs. Enter Klinkenborg who argues that “there’s nothing obsolete about four-crop rotation. It produces the same yields, it sharply reduces the toxicity of freshwater runoff, and it eliminates many of the problems associated with genetically modified crops, including the emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds. It’s also simply better for the soil."