Agriculture uses various techniques to optimize the profitability of crops. Most of them have a negative impact on soils, since their execution contemplates the use of chemicals and collection methods that are very aggressive. Even constant planting causes minerals and nutrients to be lost in the fields. The fallow seeks to give a “respite” within all these processes. It means stopping farming for certain periods of time and waiting for conditions on the ground to improve. This practice is considered ecological, as it is kind to the environment.


What is fallow?

The fallow consists of stopping the crops for a certain time so that the land regenerates. It is an agricultural technique whose objective is to allow the conditions of the soils to improve so that later, when they are used again for cultivation, they have a better yield. It is a period of rest for the plots.

  • Source
  • How it is performed
  • Fallow types
  • Fallow modes
  • Techniques and tillage
  • Importance
  • Examples of fallow
  • Efficient production
  • Other techniques


In America fallow has been applied since ancient times. The indigenous populations of the Andean and Amazon areas let the portions of land on which they sowed their food rest for a long period. They left them idle while they used other spaces before intervening again . Europeans started fallow during the Middle Ages. However, they did not leave them without total intervention, as they plowed and cleaned their land during the time they left it at rest. They also paid them naturally so that the benefits lost during agricultural activity were reimbursed. Many indigenous people in tropical countries continue the ancient practice today.


How it is performed

It is often applied when crops are to be rotated, that is, changing from one plant to another. This is done after the last harvest. The soil must have sufficient moisture so that the clods can be broken evenly . This way, the plow tractors won’t overexert themselves in the process. The fallow technique is said to have been successful if the surface is “flipped” to a depth of about 12 inches when plowing. When this happens, the soil is looser, the leftover stubble can be added, the water penetrates better, weeds are eliminated by the roots and the soil is effectively aerated.

Fallow types

Leaving the land idle, without any intervention, is no longer usual among farmers who use fallow. When this happens they call it “stubble” . Certain processes are followed to ensure that the land restores its productive conditions during fallow. According to the inactivity time of the crops, they are divided into two types:

  • Long: They are those in which the “breathing” of the earth takes more than two years. Soil conditions are 100% optimized.
  • Shorts: They are those that last less than two years resting. In these, the regeneration of the surface does not reach 100%. However, they are the most common.

There is some terminology among farm workers to refer to certain periods of fallow. When they refer to a “year and time fallow”, it is indicated that the rest lasts one year. If we speak of a “third fallow”, it is stipulated that after a crop there will be a stoppage for two years.

Fallow modes

The way in which the technique is applied also allows a classification to be made. There are various processes used to help regenerate nutrients and balance the plots worked. These are:

  • Herbaceous or untilled : It is used very little. It consists of completely abandoning the soils without taking actions to help the natural regenerative system. The hand of man does not intervene.
  • Tilled : Here the land workers act in different ways to collaborate in the regenerative process and, of course, plow the plots.

Techniques and tillage

  • Fallow Asemilladlo : There are certain plants that help soils regain their properties, and even improvements. That is why certain plant species are sown during the fallow. When this occurs it is called resemble it. The most commonly used plants are legumes such as lentils or chickpeas. The sowing is superficial, usually occurs in a year, enriches the land and also becomes a source of additional income to the main item of economic activity .
  • White fallow : It is when there is no sowing. It is usually applied in dry land and they are generally those that are done according to the jargon “fallow of year and time. For example, in Aragon Spain , they are carried out by alternating cereal crops.
  • Chemical tilled fallow : When chemical herbicides are placed on the land to eradicate weeds.
  • Mechanical tilled fallow : It is more effective for the ultimate goal of not further damaging the soil. It occurs when using tools, such as plow discs, which makes weeds decompose faster by burying them.


The deterioration of the ecosystem by the action of humanity is a palpable and quantified fact. The earth’s surface suffers from an indiscriminate exploitation of its resources. Among these exploiters is the agricultural sector. The industrialized action of agriculture is the majority and it does not use fallow . What deprives is getting a profitconstant without measuring the consequences around the land, which usually ends up destroyed, unusable. This reality evidently alters the balance of nature and therefore affects all the organisms that comprise it. The fallow is a practical, as well as functional, collaborative with the planet. With the exception of the so-called “extensive agriculture”, which if you frequent the use of the described method and rotate the crops it grows, the rest of the areas do not. Despite the fact that the effectiveness of the technique has been demonstrated, which increases the productive quality and therefore generates greater profits, there is not a substantial increase in its practitioners. Promoting its use is undoubtedly a positive action for nature and man.

Examples of fallow

  • In Spain there are many agricultural regions that implement the activity. At least some 3 million Iberian hectares are treated with the technique. The most common are those plots where cereals are sown. Mediterranean soil is characterized by its fragility and poverty, which is why the growth of the practice is essential.
  • Argentina is another example of his employment. There it starts early between February and March, especially where they harvest sorghum, corn and sunflower. It lasts until June when wheat will be grown or until November if it will be soy. In the country, fallow is very important and constitutes the mainstay of rainfed systems.

Efficient production

The fallow is important, but you also have to be attentive to other factors or processes to achieve an optimal harvest. Some steps are:

  • Humidity: Soils develop if there is adequate humidity. It is essential to keep it on the surface, in the initial centimeters, where the seeds will be placed. Under strict control, up to 60 millimeters of water can be stored.
  • Herbicides: Not all herbicides work the same way or are suitable for any weed. For choosing the right one, aspects such as distribution, climatic condition, weed species, abundance, period it takes to grow and its aggressiveness must be taken into account.
  • Vigilance : Following each step of what is cultivated guarantees taking action on time. Monitoring from the field, planting, evolution, pests, etc., should be a constant task.

Other techniques

  • Zero tillage: It is when it is cultivated without using the plow. It represents a benefit for the soils since they are not disturbed. Decomposed or living vegetative matter is used as compost. Soil health is maintained. It is often used for crops intended to feed livestock . One of the drawbacks of the technique is weed eradication. However, there are several options for those who decide to join the mode.
  • Norfolk System : Eliminates fallow and as a method of land conservation rotates crops on a quadrennial basis. He was born in the United Kingdom in the 18th century. It is used after sowing cereals (aggressive to the soils), replacing them with forage vegetables or tubers. These provide nutrients to the plots. In this way, soils are not attacked so much, in addition to serving as food for grazing animals . Little by little the technique evolved and gave rise to what is now known as “crop rotation”. In this technique, the items are also alternated, but a greater meaning is given to the nutritional contributions that the species generate to the ground. The cycles will also depend on it.

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