Main corps of organic farms in Belgium , netherlands , and Italy


Main crops (the longest vegetation or the highest yield) are:
• carrot, parsley, parsnip, celery...
• pea, French bean (bush and climbing), bean...
• chard, beet root...
• leek, garlic, onion;
• broccoli, red and white cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprout, kohlrabi, kale…
• cucumber, pumpkin, zucchini, melon, watermelon…
• sweetcorn;
• tomato, pepper, potato, eggplant…
Crop rotation and field rotation depends on the vegetables’ biological characteristics, so peas
uccessfully grows after numerous varieties, and for some varieties preceding crop selection
is limited. Selection of preceding crops depends from the need for tillage, nutrients, water
and as the most important factor, resistance to diseases and pests (Table 3).
Table 3. Preceding crops selection
Good preceding crop Satisfactory preceding crop
Pea Cucumber, cabbage, tomato,
wheat, onion, carrot Melon, watermelon, potato
spring onion Pea, wheat, perennial grasses Carrot, 

Carrot, celery,
parsley Pea, wheat, perennial grasses Cabbage, tomato, pepper
Cucumber, melon, watermel- on, squash Legumes, perennial grasses Basics
Basics Legumes, perennial grasses Pepper, Tomato
Tomato Pepper Pea, onion, perennial grasses,
wheat Cabbage, carrot
Poor preceding crop:
• before tomatoes not to grow: tomato, potato, pepper, spinach, cucumber, eggplant;
• before basics not to grow: basics, cucumber, squash;
• before root vegetables not to grow: carrot, celery, parsnip, parsley;
• before pea not to grow: pea and French bean;
• before cucumber and watermelon not to grow: cucumber, melon, watermelon, squash,
tomato, pepper;
• before alliums not to grow: onion, garlic, leek, radish.
In intensive crop rotation, we differentiate:
• first crops (preceding crops)–usually early or winter variety (lettuce, red radish, pea,
early potato, early carrot, spring onion, spinach),
• successive crops – produced after the main crop (lettuce, spinach, spring onion, French
bean, pea, radish…),
• intercrops – lettuce, garlic, (spring onion and with smaller bulbs), red radish, chives,
spinach, garden orache.
Table 4. Examples of intensive crop rotation
Field First crop Main crop Successive
1 Lettuce Tomato Garlic
2 Onion and carrot Red radish and spinach
3 Pea Beet root Lettuce
4 Parsley Pea
In the first example of the intensive crop rotation (Table 4), as the first crop in the early spring
lettuce is sown, in April is transplanted tomato as the main crop, and as the successive crop is
planted garlic. In the second example onion and carrot are grown from the spring time until
the summer as the main crops, and the radishes and spinach as the successive crops until
the winter. In the third example pea is sown early in the spring. After its harvest, a beet root
is sown, followed by winter lettuce. In the last example parsley is sown in spring, after which
is sown winter pea.
Furthermore, to plan production it is important to be familiar with the plant taxonomy. Similarities or differences between vegetable groups derive from its affiliation to the same plant
families: similar growing conditions (soil, heat, water, sunlight)

, sensitivity to certain diseases, presence of pests specific for certain plant family (the flea beetle attacks brassicas, radish
and rocket), need for certain nutrients (French bean, pea, cauliflower are Molybdenum sensitive), interactions between certain vegetables (allelopathic interactions).
In the vegetable crop rotation should not be grown species from the same botanical families
in a row, since they are sensitive to the same diseases and pests. Essential is to respect the
time gap between sowing or planting crops from the same botanical family! The time gap
should be at least three years, but it is desirable to keep it up to five years, specifically for tomato, eggplant, pepper, cucumber, root vegetables (parsley, celery, carrot, parsnip), as well
as for alliums (onion, garlic, leek). Practically, on one plot pepper, tomato, eggplant, potato
or tobacco should not be grown together for longer period of time nor combined in the crop
rotation. For above mentioned crops good preceding are beans, French bean, pea, onion, as
well ascorn, grains, sunflower, sugar beet.
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Botanical vegetables’ classification:
• Alliums (Alliaceae): (Allium cepa L.), garlic (Allium sativum L.), leek (Allium porum L.),
chives (Allium schoenoprasum L.);
• Umbelliferae(Apiaceae):carrot (Daucus carota L.), parsley (Petroselinum hortense L.),
parsnip (Pastinaca sativa L.), celery (Apium graveolens L.), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare
• Brassicas (Brassicaceae): cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata), cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L. var. botrytis), broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var. italica), kale (Brassica oleracea L. var. sabauda), tree kale (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala D. C.), Brussels sprout
(Brassica oleracea L. var. gemmifera), kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea L. var. gogylodes), rocket (Eruca sativa, Mill. ), radish (Raphanus sativus var. major L.), radishes (Raphanus sativus var. sativus L.), horseradish (Armoracia rusticana L.);
• Compositae (Asteraceae): lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), endive (Cichorium endivia L.), chicory (Cichorium intybus L.), salsify (Tragopogon porrfolius), Spanish salsify (Scorzonera
hispanica),artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.), cardoon (Cynara cardunculus L.), Jerusalem
artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L. fam.);
• Chenopodiaceae (Chenopodiaceae): spinach (Spinacea oleracea L.), chard (Beta vulgaris
ssp. cicla L.), beet root (Beta vulgaris L. ssp. esculenta), garden orache (Atriplex hortensis
• Cucurbits(Cucurbitaceae): watermelon (Citrullus vulgaris L.), melon (Cucumis melo L.),
cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), squash (Cucurbita sp. L.), zucchini (Cucurbita pepo L.);
• Pods (Fabaceae): pea (Pisum sativum L.), 

French bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), bean
(Phaseolus vulgaris),fava bean (Vicia faba L.);
• Nightshade family (Solanaceae): tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.), pepper (Capsicum
annuum L.), eggplant (Solanum melongena L.), potato (Solanum tuberosum ssp. tuberosum L.), physalis (Physalis sp. L.);
• Grasses (Poaceae) – sweetcorn (Zea mays var. sacharata);
• Perennial crops:familyMalvaceae – okra (Hibiscus esculentus L.); family Valerianaceae
– corn salad (Valerianella locusta L.); family Asparaginaceae – asparagus(Asparagus officinalis L); family Convolvulaceae – sweet potato (Ipomea batatas L. fam.); family Polygonaceae - rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum L.).
If farm produces perennial vegetables species, they are then separated from others. Asparagus, rhubarb, chives as well as many other plants are produced on the separated fourth plot
for the green manure.
When planning the crop rotation look after following principles of crops’ sequencing:
• deep-root crops with shallow-root crops (root species with legumes or fruit-bearing and
root vegetables) to maintain good structure, aeration and drainage of soil;
• narrow row spacing with high density with wider row spacing produced crops (hoed
• legumes with heavy nitrogen feeders (brassicas, squash, sweetcorn…);
• crops that form more biomass with those with less biomass (vining vegetables with alliums);
• big water consumers (pepper, cabbage, cucumber, tomato…) with more water tolerant
(pea, potato…).
• to change leafy and root varieties and grains to diminish weeds;
• to avoid sowing or planting of crops prone to diseases;
• to apply mixed sowing and planting;
• to grow cover crops.
When planning the crop rotation take into consideration as well:
• abundance of water-loving vegetables (pepper, tomato, cabbage, cucumber…);
• abundance of perennial legumes (alfalfa, white and red clover);
• abundance of crops which improve soil structure;
• specificities of certain crops’ cultivation with trellis, their shading, pruning, etc.
Green manure
Green manure presents any crop in crop rotation system, incorporated into the soil to increase organic matter, nitrogen and other nutrients. Green manure can have other purpose
like: erosion protection as a soil cover, adoption of available nutrients from soil and protection of soil from erosion reducing their depletion by water runoff (catch crops), intersect
life of pests, weeds and diseases, suppressing weeds with high density and shading. Green
manure have many functions on farm. Goals, shading manner and use of green manure presents part of cover crop technology therefore are described in more details in this handbook.
Cover crops
Cover crops are applied as a biotechnological measure in systems of ecological agriculture.
They can be defined as crops not grown for commercial purposes, with multiple role in crop

 Different ways of introduction of cover crops in the crop rotation provides multiple
benefits for the main crop and soil: protection of the soil surface from erosion, increase in
organic matter content, management of soil moisture, protection of water quality, control
of weeds and pests, etc. One of the core principles of organic production is conservation of
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natural soil fertility, therefore application of the cover crops production system is a basic
precondition for its successful management. Management of practices in organic production: crop rotation plan, species and variety selection, cultivation type, sowing methods,
crop management, way of harvesting, are done parallel for main and cover crop. Production
of main crops is adjusted to application of this technology with possibility of sequential cropping (subsequent, stubble, winter crops), intercropping and protective cover crops

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