Fallow


Fallow is the land that is not sown during one or several vegetative cycles, in order to recover and store organic matter and moisture. It also refers to land that is left to rest for one or several years. Usual in crop rotation.

During the time it remains uncultivated, it undergoes a series of tasks to improve its predisposition to cultivation.

Fallowing is a common practice in extensive agriculture, and is part of crop rotation systems. It means having unproductive soil, but it helps keep its fertility and weeds or diseases at bay.

There are several types of fallow. According to the time in which the earth is left to rest, we have, for example, “year and time”, in which one year is cultivated and the next rests; or “to the third”, in which one year and two rests are cultivated. Depending on whether or not something is planted in the plot, we have “seed in fallow” or “white fallow” respectively. Species of the legume family are planted (lentils, chickpeas, yeras, vetch, etc.) that enrich the soil and instead of harvesting the crop, it is buried in the ground.

There are many ways to farm and treat crops. If we talk about horticulture at a professional level, a popular technique is fallowing.

Although the objective of a crop is to be as productive as possible, maximizing profits and minimizing losses, sometimes a piece of land must be stopped in order to ensure its future productivity. This is the premise on which fallowing is based, an ancient technique practiced by farmers in the Middle Ages. It consists of each time a piece of land is left uncultivated, so that it breathes, regenerates and obtains the necessary nutrients and the degree of humidity. By leaving these pieces of land to rest, the productivity of the garden is assured for years to come.

We can distinguish between short and long fallow. In the short fallow type, it takes only one or two years for the land to be re-cultivated, so the land does not completely regenerate. In long barbecues, a long period of time passes between cultivation and cultivation, and the soil fully recovers.

We can also make distinctions regarding the different ways of practicing this agricultural technique. Herbaceous fallow consists of leaving the land completely abandoned. That is, no maintenance work is performed. On the other hand, the plowed worked fallow, to aerate the soil and to regenerate its nutrients.

Numerous studies have shown that fallowing is one of the most efficient and productive agricultural techniques. In Spain, this technique is mainly used in crops in the Mediterranean area.