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Farming in the Far East (Russia)

In agricultural terms, the Far East is most important in the production of soybeans, rice, potatoes, vegetables and livestock products. The main areas of arable land are concentrated in the Amur Region and Primorsky Krai.

Natural and climatic conditions


The climate of the Russian Far East has a pronounced monsoon character. Winters have little snow and are dominated by clear sunny days. The average annual temperature in January is -16 … -24 °С. Summer is warm, with an average daily temperature of 18 … 22 °С in July. Duration of frostless period is from 140 to 172 days, vegetation period (with a temperature of more than 5 °С) is 125-157 days. The sum of active temperatures during vegetation period is 2150-2800°С. Autumn frosts are possible from September 14-29, and spring frosts end from May 9-30.

Cold and strong winds in winter from the land alternate with cool, moist air currents from the ocean in summer.

Average annual precipitation varies from 400 mm in the north of the Magadan region to 800-900 mm in mountainous areas. In the main agricultural areas 500-700 mm falls, of which only 10% falls in winter. Frequent droughts are possible in spring and in the first half of summer, while in the second half – abundant precipitation, often accompanied by downpours.


Soils are represented by sod-podzolic, gleyey and meadow-gleyey varieties of heavy granulometric composition. Meadow-swamp and swampy soils are widespread in the lowland plains, peat-gleyey, light brown forest low-humus soils in the taiga-forest zone. Meadow black-earth-like soils with a thickness of the humus layer of 16-25 cm and the amount of humus of the arable layer of 6-10% are widespread in the Zeya-Bureya plain. Acidity (pHsalt) is 4.8-5.2.Fertile light alluvial soils are widespread in river valleys, and stony and rubbly soils on watersheds and gently sloping slopes.

In the south of the Far East, brown forest soils with humus content of up to 2.5% and phosphorus content of up to 2.5 mg/100 g with an acid reaction are spread on the Ussurian-Khanka and Sredne-Amurskaya plains along the ridges of hills.

Most soils of the Far East are characterized by heavy granulometric composition, with low content of organic matter and phosphorus, have an acidic reaction and weak structure. These properties cause poor water permeability, unsatisfactory water and nutrient regimes, the need for radical cultivation and the fight against water erosion. More than half of the arable lands of the Far East are periodically overwatered.


The relief of the Russian Far East is mostly flat and hilly, with the presence of accumulative depressions. Significant areas of arable land and natural forage lands are concentrated in the high part of the Zeya-Bureya plain and on gentle slopes. Soils in this area were formed in conditions of periodic overwetting, manifestation of water erosion and its deposits.


More than 80% of the land in the Far East is forested. Natural forage lands account for more than half of all agricultural lands. However, the yields of natural vegetation are low due to insufficient or lack of care for it. Cultural vegetation is represented by crops of spring cereals, rice, soybeans, potatoes, forage and vegetable crops.

The main tasks of the farming system

Tasks of the farming system in the Far East:

  • improving the structure of sown areas and the system of crop rotations,
  • improving the culture of farming and soil fertility,
  • creating a deep arable layer with a high state of cultivation and with optimal water-physical and agrochemical properties,
  • enriching the soil with organic matter and available plant nutrients,
  • reduction of acidity,
  • bilateral regulation of soil water regime (drainage, irrigation),
  • control of spring deficit and summer surplus of moisture,
  • prevention of water erosion of soil,
  • control of weed vegetation, pests and plant pathogens,
  • improving the state of cultivation of hayfields and pastures, increasing their productivity,
  • introduction of progressive intensive technologies of crops cultivation.

Improvement of the state of cultivation and fertility of the arable layer through the systematic application of organic fertilizers, phosphorus fertilizers and liming are of decisive importance.

Crop rotations system

Depending on soil and climatic conditions, specialization, and planting structure, in the Far East field, forage, and special crop rotations with the number of fields from three to nine are used: 4-6-field field rotations without perennial grasses, 6-9-field rotations with alfalfa, clover, and grass mixtures. A significant share of row crops in the structure of sown areas allows the wide use of cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) crop rotation as the basis for crop rotation and intensification of farming.

Cereal-grass-row crop rotations may include soybeans, cereal crops, legumes grasses, primarily clover of one-year use. For example: 1 – clover, 2 – soybeans, 3 – wheat, 4 – soybeans, 5 – cereals with undersowing of clover. If perennial grasses are used for a longer period of time, they are cultivated in a withdrawal field.

Cereal-soybean crop rotations with inclusion of cereals, soybeans, clover, and annual grasses are applied in soils with heavy granulometric composition and susceptible to overwatering and siltation. These crops, except soybeans, finish vegetation before the period of heavy rains.

In Primorsky Krai, repeated (two- and three-year) sowing of rice, potato and corn in field and special crop rotations is widespread. The share of rice in crops in the steppe and forest-steppe parts of the Prikhanka lowland is up to 75%.

In the areas of soybean cultivation, it accounts for 25-40% of the arable area. Here grain and fallow fields or crop rotations are used:

  • 1 – bare or seeded fallow, 2 – wheat, 3 – soybeans, 4 – wheat or grain forage, 5 – soybeans;
  • 1 – bare or seeded fallow, 2 – wheat, 3 – soybeans, 4 – wheat or other cereals.

On light soils, cereal-soybean crop rotations may include corn, potatoes, sugar beets or other row crops: 1 – corn, 2 – wheat, 3 – soybeans, 4 – spring cereals, 5 – soybeans.

At the enterprises of rice specialization special rice crop rotations are introduced.

On-farm crop rotations mainly include fodder crops:

  • 1 – corn for silage, 2 – potatoes, 3 – root crops;
  • 1 – clover, 2 – corn, 3 – potatoes and root crops, 4 – silage, 5 – barley with undersowing of clover.

Vegetable crop rotations are selected taking into account zonal recommendations, specialization and production needs.

Tillage system

Taking into account soil and climatic conditions of the Far East (Russia), positive results are obtained by periodic, and in some cases repeated deep plowing with ploughs with skimmers to a depth of 25-27 cm and non-moldboard loosening. The efficiency is explained by the fact that the humus-accumulative layer of many soils of the Far East is not more than 16 cm, the subsoil layer is dense and poorly water-permeable.

The effectiveness of different-depth plowing in the conditions of the Far East is also confirmed by scientific research. It is applied to the depth of 22-24 cm for soybeans and 14-16 cm for wheat. Different-depth plowing also reduces the weed infestation of crops.

Great effect gives a deepening of the arable layer, subject to the introduction of organic and mineral fertilizers in crop rotations. For example, deepening of topsoil from 16-18 cm to 25 cm for three rotations in 9-field crop rotations with background of 120 tons of manure, 15,6 tons of lime and 469 kg of phosphorus resulted in increase of crop capacity during this period by 2-3 times.

Pre-sowing soil preparation for late crops, such as soybeans or corn, use multi-phase different-depth tillage. In addition to ploughing, the soil is cultivated in layers three times: the first – to a depth of 12-14 cm, the second – 8-10 cm and the third – 5-6 cm with reconsolidation. Such treatment allows to clean the field from weeds and improve the water and nutrient regimes of the seed layer.

To prevent development of water erosion, plowing on sloping lands is carried out after termination of abundant rainfall at an angle of 0,005-0,007 to the horizon. On long slopes runoff water is intercepted by drainage furrows. In 3-4 years deepening of arable layer by ploughs with deepeners or non-moldboard plough stands is carried out.

To divert excess water from the fields, the soil is mole-cutting or slitting is carried out. Soils subjected to wind erosion are subjected to flat-cut tillage, non-moldboard tillage or their alternation with plowing.

Pre-sowing tillage of soils prone to erosion is carried out particularly carefully. Cultivation is carried out crosswise, the second time necessarily across the slope.

In conditions of over-wetting the ridge-row technology of crops cultivation is highly effective.

Fertilizer system

Manure is the most important organic fertilizer for all regions of Russia. 1 ton of manure per rotation of field crop rotation allows to get 60-95 kg/ha additional fodder unit. In this case the cost of its preparation and application pays for itself within 1-2 years.

The efficiency of manure increases when it is applied in combination with mineral fertilizers.

Manure is brought in the first place under vegetable crops in a dose of 60 t/ha and potatoes – 40 t/ha with repeated introduction in 2 years. In field crop rotations, it is used once per rotation at a rate of 30-40 t/ha.

Litterless (liquid) manure also gives good results.

Peat in pure form as an organic fertilizer is ineffective. It is used to prepare peat manure, lime-bacterial, peat-phosphorite, peat-phosphorite-lime composts. Lime must be thoroughly mixed into the organic mass. The size of the base of piles 3-4 m, height up to 2 m.

Peat composts are used mainly in forage crop rotations. In potato and vegetable crop rotations they are alternated with manure.

Soybean and clover straw is used as a green fertilizer, plowing them in late August and early September.

Mineral fertilization in the Far East allows increasing the yield by 25-70%. Cereal crops, potatoes, corn, vegetable crops, cereal perennial grasses and, under favorable weather conditions, soybeans are particularly responsive.

The main fertilizer is applied under autumn tillage, during spring cultivation or deep non-moldboard loosening. During the sowing fertilizer is applied in the rows, during the care of crops in the form of top dressing.

In the fertilizer systems in the Amur region the basic fertilizer is made under the plowing or locally to a depth of 8-15 cm by grain-(fertilizer)mixture seeders or combined machines design All-Russian Research Institute of Soybean. For fertilizing cereals and perennial grasses, grain-(fertilizer)mixture seeders are used; for row crops, cultivators are used.

Liming of acidic soils is one of the most important methods of the fertilizer system in the Far East, which increases soil fertility and efficiency of mineral fertilizers. Lime is applied in the summer and autumn, after harvesting fallow-occupying and cereal crops or before plowing clover and soy-sideral fertilizers.

To improve the phosphorus nutrient regime of acidic soils, phosphate meal is used in a dose of 1-2 t/ha.

Microfertilizers have an important role in increasing crop yield. For example, the treatment of soybean seeds with ammonium molybdate solution at a rate of 50-100 grams of salt per hectare seed rate increases the yield by 0.2 t/ha. The introduction of 7-12 kg/ha of borax (sodium tetraborate) increases potato yields by 10-24%, increasing the starchiness of tubers.

Bacterial fertilizers such as nitragin, rhizotorfin are effective when used in soybean-cereal crop rotations. The yield of soybean seeds increases by 0.08-0.3 t/ha when nitragin is used in the Amur region.

Plant protection system

The Russian Far East is characterized by a complex type of weed infestation, dominated by perennial weeds, of which the most harmful are: thistles (Sonchus), Artemisia (Artemisia), couch grass (Elytrigia repens).

In the system of plant protection against pests and diseases in the crops of cereals are carried out harrowing and treated with rapidly degradable pesticides in accordance with the technology of cultivation. Harrowing is performed during mass growth of weeds, optimally – in the period of full sprouts of cultivated plants before their tillering.

The following pests and diseases are widespread in the Far East: meadow moth, potato moth, soybean moth, soybean nematode, white rot of soybean, fusariosis of cereals and soybean, dust bunt, potato phytophthora, different types of rust.

The system of plant protection against weeds, pests and pathogens includes all extermination and preventive methods.

Crop rotation is a biological (cultural) method of controlling pests, diseases and weeds. Thus, when returning soybeans to their previous place in the rotation after 2-3 years, it allows to minimize their damage.

The main, pre-sowing and inter-row tillage are the methods of agrotechnical method of protection system. They allow to reduce the infestation of cultural plants by diseases and pests by 15-30%.

Chemical method of plant protection is used to control: meadow moth, blister, bread flea, gophers and pathogens such as dusty mildew, brown rust, helminthosporiosis, fusarium, in some years stem rust.


Farming. Textbook for universities / G.I. Bazdyrev, V.G. Loshakov, A.I. Puponin et al. – Moscow: Publishing House “Kolos”, 2000. – 551 с.

Farming of irrigated regions

The main areas of irrigated land are concentrated in Russia and the former Soviet Union, for example, in the south of Ukraine, the North Caucasus, the steppe part of the Trans-Volga region, Transcaucasia, Central Asia and in the south of Kazakhstan.

Natural and climatic conditions


The climate is continental, with dry and hot summers and mild and warm winters. Average annual precipitation ranges from 100 to 250 mm in the foothill plains and up to 400-500 mm in the mountainous areas. The duration of the vegetation period is from 170 to 240 days, the sum of active temperatures is 3400-5400 °С.


In Central Asia and Kazakhstan gray earths and gray earth-meadow soils prevail, in Transcaucasia – chestnut and brown, in the south of Ukraine and the North Caucasus – black earths.

Tasks of irrigated farming system

The main crops cultivated on irrigated lands in Central Asia, southern Kazakhstan and Transcaucasia are cotton, rice, sugar beet, alfalfa, corn, melons, developed horticulture and viticulture. Winter wheat, rice, corn, sugar beets, sunflowers, fodder crops and tobacco are grown in the south of Ukraine and the North Caucasus. Part of irrigated land is occupied by orchards, vineyards, pastures and hayfields. Spring wheat predominates in the steppe areas of the Trans-Volga region, significant areas are allocated for fodder crops, in the south of the zone – rice.

The limiting factor for agriculture in irrigated regions is moisture. Under such conditions, the farming system should ensure efficient use of moisture, reduce unproductive evaporation, and comply with irrigation technology.

The components of the farming system:

  • rational structure of sown areas, including the most valuable crops and varieties of intensive type;
  • crop rotations with high saturation of leading crops, including intermediate crops and crops that improve soil fertility;
  • rational system of tillage, aimed at improving agrophysical properties, contributing to the efficient use of irrigation water and atmospheric precipitation;
  • fertilizer system, providing optimal nutrient regime and increasing irrigation water use coefficient;
  • seed production system, providing for sowing of intensive type varieties, resistant to lodging, salinity, diseases and pests, capable of using life factors and giving the maximum yield of the best quality;
  • an integrated system of plant protection;
  • system of anti-erosion measures and soil protection from salinization and waterlogging;
  • rational organization of crop rotations, taking into account the size and shape of fields, placement and operation of ameliorative network;
  • placement of field-protective forest plantations.

Crop rotations system

In irrigated regions, depending on natural and economic conditions, we use row, cereal-grass-row, and cereal-row crop rotation systems.


Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Farming and crop production. Edited by V.S. Niklyaev. – Moscow: Bylina, 2000. – 555 с.

Farming in the steppe and forest-steppe regions of Siberia

Natural and climatic conditions


The steppe and forest-steppe regions of Siberia are characterized by a sharply continental climate with recurrent droughts 2-3 years out of 5 years, especially in the steppe part. Summers are short and hot. The warm period is 110-120 days, with fluctuations from 80 to 150 days. Daily air temperature in June-July is 35-40 °C, on the soil surface it is 50-55 °C. The sum of active temperatures is 1500-2300 °C. Early autumn frosts are possible, creating a danger for late-ripening crops and varieties.

Relative humidity may decrease to 10-12%. Winter period is long – 150-170 days, the minimum average temperature in December-February is -35 … -40 °C.

The average annual precipitation in the forest-steppe regions is 400-450 mm, in the steppe 250-300 mm and less (Kulunda steppe). Summer months account for 40-50% of annual precipitation. The driest period is usually June-first half of July.

Droughts and dry winds are typical phenomena. The probability of dry years varies from 45 to 88%. Number of days with wind speed over 15 m/s reaches 15-25, mainly fall in May-June, prevail in arid-steppe and semi-desert zones, especially in Kulunda steppe. Frequent and strong winds lead to the development of wind erosion of soils.


Soils of forest-steppe and steppe part of Siberia are mainly represented by ordinary, leached and southern black earths, dark- and light-chestnut, chestnut light soils. The share of areas occupied by saline soils and salts is high, in the north of the forest-steppe zone – gray forest and sod-podzol soils.

Soils of steppe areas are exposed to wind erosion, forest-steppe – to water and combined erosion. After large-scale development of virgin lands, soils have undergone significant changes: their structure has deteriorated, the content of organic matter has decreased.


The steppe regions of Siberia are dominated by plains, micro depressions (saucers), depressions and shallow valleys formed under the influence of the glacier and winds. The forest-steppe part is characterized by undulating and hilly relief with valleys of ancient runoff, gullies and ravines, formed under the influence of basins of the Ob, Irtysh, Yenisei, Ishim and their tributaries. Therefore, about half of the arable lands here are located on slopes of steepness of 3-5°, which leads to the manifestation of water erosion. On wind-impacted southern and southwestern slopes, manifestations of wind erosion can be observed.


Vegetation is specific. As a result of plowing of virgin and fallow lands, natural herbaceous vegetation represented by cereals and cereal-grasses was replaced by cultural vegetation. Spring cereals (60-70%) prevail in the structure of sown areas of agricultural land, of which 70-80% is the leading crop of the region – spring wheat. Forage crops, including perennial grasses, account for 23-25% of the total sown area, under bare fallow – 10-15%. Significant areas are occupied by potatoes, sunflowers, oil flax, camelina, mustard, sugar beet (in the Altai Territory).

A peculiarity of Siberian farming systems is the almost complete absence of winter crops, which leads to a large concentration and tension of field work in the spring period and during harvesting. In addition, it affects soil protection from erosion: the absence of vegetation cover in the autumn-winter period and early spring leads to the development of erosion processes. Therefore, the direction of breeding frost-resistant varieties of rye and wheat for conditions of steppe and forest-steppe regions of Siberia is promising.

Conditions of forest-steppe and steppe part of Siberia are not suitable for afforestation. Woody vegetation in the forest-steppe is represented in the small plots of woods, small groves and artificial plantings. Separate forest areas or complete absence of forest at high plowing of lands creates conditions of strong winds, drying the soil, contributing to the manifestation of black storms, which in winter blow snow from the fields.

The main tasks of the farming system

The main specialization of farming is – grain, meat and dairy and wool (sheep breeding), developed pig breeding, combined with grain direction.

The main factor limiting the yield is the deficit of moisture, characterized by frequent droughts and wind erosion of soils. These factors determine the main tasks of the farming systems of the forest-steppe and steppe of Siberia:

  • combating drought,
  • prevention of wind erosion,
  • improvement of alkaline soils,
  • elimination of weed vegetation.

Of particular importance is the observance of optimal sowing dates for spring cereals, taking into account biological and varietal characteristics, the use of agrotechnical and chemical methods of plant protection.

Crop rotations system

In the extreme conditions of Siberia, crop rotation becomes especially important.

In Siberia, the main rotations are cereal-fallow, cereal-fallow-row, cereal-fallow-grass, and cereal-row crop rotations. The first type predominates, as it allows to solve the main problem – increasing grain production.

Cereal-fallow crop rotations are the most productive in terms of grain. Thanks to bare fallows, the minimum needs of spring wheat in water and nutrients under arid climate conditions are ensured. By the time of spring wheat sowing, bare fallows accumulate 1.5-2 times more moisture in the one-meter layer of soil than after cereal or row crop predecessors.

The most productive by grains crop rotations are 4-5-pole cereal-fallows:

  • 1 – bare fallow, 2 – spring wheat, 3 – spring wheat, 4 – barley;
  • 1 – bare fallow, 2 – spring wheat, 3 – spring wheat, 4 – barley, 5 – spring wheat.

For the forest-steppe part of Siberia crop rotations are recommended:

  • 1 – fallow, 2-3 – spring wheat, 4 – corn for silage, 5 – spring wheat, 6 – barley, oats;
  • 1 – fallow, 2-3 – spring wheat, 4 – corn forage, 5 – corn for silage, 6-7 – spring wheat, 8 – alfalfa (4-5 years old field).

In the central and northern forest-steppe of Altai Krai cereal-fallow-grass crop rotations are economically and agrotechnically profitable. Their productivity from 1 ha of the crop rotation area for wheat grain, fodder and protein is 105-115 kg/ha per 1 fodder unit. Interchange schemes: 1 – fallow (bare or seeded), 2 – wheat + perennial grasses, 3 – perennial grasses of 1st year of use, 4 – perennial grasses of 2nd year of use, 5 – wheat, 6 – oats + vetch or oats.

On sloping lands with a steepness of 3-5° and active manifestation of water erosion, four-field soil-protective cereal-grass crop rotations are introduced: 1 – wheat with undersowing of perennial grasses, 2 – perennial grasses of 1st year of use, 3 – perennial grasses of 2nd year of use, 4 – wheat.

On steep slopes above 5°, bare fallows are replaced by seeded fallows or leguminous crops with striped placement across slopes with perennial grass buffer strips 15-20 m wide and 100-200 m apart taking into account steepness and exposition of the area.

Strongly eroded slopes with a slope of more than 8° are completely grassed with perennial grasses.

Field soil-protective crop rotations with strip planting of annual crops and perennial grasses are introduced on light soils.

In general, the following crop rotations are recommended for the regions of Siberia:

  • forest-steppe and moderately arid steppe regions:
    • 4-field cereal-fallow: 1 – bare (strip) fallow, 2-3 – spring wheat, 4 – barley;
    • 5-field: 1 – bare (strip) fallow, 2-4 – spring wheat, 5 – oats, barley;
    • 6-field cereal-fallow-grass: 1 – bare (strip) fallow, 2-3 – spring wheat, 4 – annual grasses, 5 – spring wheat, 6 – barley or wheat;
    • 6-field cereal-fallow-row: 1 – bare fallow (strip), 2-3 – spring wheat, 4 – corn (for silage), 5 – spring wheat, 6 – barley or oats;
    • 8-field cereal-fallow-row-grass: 1 – fallow, 2-3 – spring wheat, 4 – corn (barley, oats), 5 – corn for silage (annual grasses), 6 – spring wheat, 7 – spring wheat (grain forage), 8 – lucerne (derived field).
  • steppe and dry steppe:
    • 3-field cereal-fallow: 1 – bare fallow (strip), 2-3 – spring wheat;
    • 4-field: 1 – bare (strip) fallow, 2-3 – spring wheat, 4 – barley or oats;
    • 5-field: 1 – bare (strip) fallow, 2-3 – spring wheat, 4 – barley or oats, 5 – spring wheat;
    • 5-field cereal-fallow-grass: 1 – bare (strip) fallow, 2-3 – spring wheat, 4 – spring wheat + perennial grasses, 5 – perennial grasses (non-rotation field).
  • in semi-desert subzone:
    • 2-field cereal-fallow: 1 – bare fallow (strip), 2 – spring wheat;
    • 3-field: 1 – bare fallow (strip), 2 – spring wheat, 3 – fodder crops (millet).

In conditions of risk of wind erosion development 3-4-field cereal-fallow crop rotations are recommended with strip placement of bare fallow: 1 – bare fallow (strip), spring wheat, 2 – spring wheat, bare fallow (strip) and so on. Width of strips is 100 m.

Cereal-fallow crop rotations without row crops are used on saline soils:

  • 1 – bare fallow (strip), 2 – spring wheat, 3 – spring wheat and leguminous, 4 – vetch-oat mixture, 5 – spring cereals;
  • 1 – seeded (melilotus) fallow, 2 – spring wheat, 3 – spring wheat, etc.

Introduction of on-farm crop rotations is effective at enterprises with cattle breeding specialization. High yields of grain-forage crops in forage crop rotations are obtained in 2-3-year alternation with corn or millet sown for hay.

For cattle-breeding complexes with meat and dairy specialization grass-field with hay and pasture use, on-farm, saturated with silage crops, and forage, saturated with grain-forage crops, crop rotations are recommended.

At farms located near large cities and industrial centers, special vegetable crop rotations are introduced.

Tillage system

The main tasks of the tillage system:

  • prevention of wind erosion of the soil;
  • maximum accumulation and preservation of moisture;
  • weakening the effect of droughts;
  • effective control of weeds, pests and pathogens;
  • creation of optimal conditions for the growth and development of crops;
  • introduction of mineral and organic fertilizers.

Cultural plowing in the steppe regions of Siberia does not contribute to solving the problems of soil protection from erosion and moisture accumulation. Soil during autumn mouldboard plowing is deprived of plant cover and stubble residues, and is subjected to wind and water erosion. Snow is blown off the arable land into spikes and micro depressions. As a result, the soil freezes to a great depth and thaws only by June 5-10.

Flat-cutting autumn tillage after cereal crops allows saving up to 80-85% of stubble on the field surface, which delays snow, protects the soil from blowing out, contributes to less freezing and moisture accumulation. The reserves of productive moisture in the one-meter soil layer are 30-60 mm higher during the flat-cut tillage than during plowing.

In more humid forest-steppe regions of Siberia the system of tillage can be combined, combining the methods of non-moldboard, mouldboard and surface tillage. The preference for one or another method depends on local weather conditions, field condition, forecrop, features of the cultivated crop, topography, risk of erosion processes, and weed infestation.

In the conditions of Priobskaya forest-steppe of Altai Territory, where the amount of precipitation is 400-450 mm and the terrain is rugged, the non-moldboard tillage dramatically weakens the impact of water erosion. Yield of spring wheat increases by 0.2-0.4 t/ha. In dry years the increase in yields reached 0.4-0.5 t/ha.

In the Priobskaya subzone the following systems of tillage are used depending on the type of crop rotation:

  1. Cereal-fallow crop rotation:
    • 1 – bare fallow (strip) – autumn tillage after harvesting the forecrop or spring tillage with КПП-2,2. First tillage at the depth of 10-12 cm, second – 12-14 cm, cultivation with rod cultivator type КШ-3,6 at 6-8 cm as weeds grow and rains fall. Loosening with a КПГ-250 cultivator to a depth of 25-27 cm in August-September, in late autumn in October – loosening by КПГ-250 to 27-30 cm for better use of autumn-winter precipitation and to prevent development of water erosion in spring of the next year;
    • 2 – spring wheat – harrowing in spring with a needle harrow БИГ-3, pre-sowing cultivation КПЭ-3,8 equipped with a rod, sowing with a drill СЗП-3,6. After harvesting – main tillage КПП-2,2 at the depth of 14-16 cm;
    • 3 – spring wheat – spring harrowing with a needle harrow БИГ-3, pre-sowing cultivation КПЭ-3,8, equipped with a rod, sowing with a drill СЗП-3,6. After harvesting the main tillage with КПГ-250 at 20-22 cm;
    • 4 – oats – spring harrowing БИГ-3, pre-sowing cultivation КПЭ-3,8, sowing by СЗП-3,6 seeding machine, the main tillage with КПП-2,2 to a depth of 14-16 cm
    • 5 – spring wheat – spring harrowing of БИГ-3, pre-sowing cultivation of КПЭ-3,8, seeding by СЗП-3,6 type seeder.
  2. Cereal-fallow-row crop rotation:
    • 1, 2 and 3 – the fields are cultivated according to the scheme of cereal-fallow crop rotation. In dry years plowing corn replace flat-cutting loosening to a depth of 14-15 or 20-22 cm
    • 4 – corn for silage – autumn after harvesting spring wheat plowing to a depth of 23-25 cm with embedding organic fertilizers in a dose of 20-30 tons/ha. Harrowing in spring with a Zig-Zag harrow, pre-sowing cultivation, seeding with СЗП-3,6 seed drill. After harvesting, the main tillage with plough or cultivator-depth-loosener КПГ-250 at 20-22 cm.
    • 5 – spring wheat – spring harrowing БИГ-3, pre-sowing cultivation КПЭ-3,8, seeding by СЗП-3,6 seeding machine, the main tillage КПП-2,2 on depth of 14-15 cm;
    • 6 – oats – spring harrowing БИГ-3, pre-sowing cultivation КПЭ-3,8, seeding by СЗП-3,6 seeding machine.
  3. Cereal-grass crop rotation:
    • 1 – spring wheat – spring harrowing with a needle harrow БИГ-3, pre-sowing cultivation КПЭ-3,8, seeding with seed drill СЗП-3,6, tillage with КПП-2,2 to a depth of 14-15 cm;
    • 2 – spring wheat + perennial grasses – spring harrowing of БИГ-3, pre-sowing cultivation of КПЭ-3,8, seeding with СЗП-3,6 or a grain-grass seeder
    • 3 – perennial grasses of the 1st year – care according to accepted zonal technology;
    • 4 – perennial grasses of the 2nd year – care and harvesting according to accepted zonal technology, main tillage – plowing 23-25 cm deep, cutting of layer is made with heavy disc-tillers БДТ-7, БДТ-10. Weak perennial grasses may be cultivated with deep loosening cultivator КПГ-250 at the depth of 23-25 cm.

Terms of work and number of tillage operations may vary depending on weather conditions, weed infestation of fields, and other circumstances.

For the forest-steppe of the Trans-Urals in the Kurgan region, where wind and water erosion are weak, the main factor limiting the yield is drought. The tillage technology proposed by T.S. Maltsev in the late 40’s and early 50’s, based on a combination of deep and surface loosening, in these conditions is the most effective. The main tillage of fallow with non-moldboard tools is carried out at a depth of 27-30 cm, autumn tillage in the remaining fields of the crop rotation – disc-tillers to a depth of 10-12 cm in two trails.

In contrast to the flat-cutting system of tillage, designed for the maximum preservation of stubble as the main erosion control means, the system of cultivation by T.S. Maltsev gives stubble the role of mulching layer that preserves moisture and contributes to the accumulation of organic matter in the soil due to stubble and root residues.

According to the method of T.S. Maltsev, deep non-moldboard tillage is effective on meadow-chernozem soils, ordinary and leached black earths with heavier granulometric composition and on medium and deep columnar solonets.

In the north of the Siberian forest-steppe, which is characterized by sufficient precipitation and heavy soils, non-moldboard tillage is often used instead of plowing fallows and arable land in spring for row crops.

In the steppe and forest-steppe regions of Siberia, spring pre-sowing cultivation is used to provoke and destroy weeds. 

Types and terms of field work are specified for each farm taking into account weather conditions and technical equipment.

The care technology for bare (black and early) fallow in forest-steppe regions of Siberia is somewhat different. When preparing according to the scheme of black fallow, deep loosening or plowing is carried out after stubble loosening or discing to accumulate moisture in winter. Organic fertilizers are applied under plowing or superficially in autumn or the following summer.

Transferring the last (main) deep tillage of fallow from August to September or October makes it possible to reduce moisture losses for evaporation, eliminate the spraying of the top layer from repeated summer-autumn tillage and create additional pore volume to absorb spring melt water and reduce the negative impact of water erosion.

Fertilizer system

V.V. Dokuchaev characterized the black earths of Siberia as capable of producing good yields. At the same time, having a humus horizon of only 30-50 cm and humus reserves of 4-6%, they can quickly “wear out” and reduce their natural fertility if used improperly. V.V. Dokuchaev’s prediction was confirmed: after 8-10 years of improper use of new (virgin) lands without the use of fertilizers on large areas the fertility decreased significantly and the negative impact of wind and water erosion increased.

According to the results of the long-term study of different fertilizer systems in cereal-fallow crop rotations, the highest grain yield was obtained when P60 was applied in bare fallowNitrogen fertilizers give a confirmed increase in yield under the condition of application of an increased dose of phosphorus fertilizers.

The application of manure has a positive effect on the yield of spring wheat when it is applied in a fallow field. Manure application method – under the plough or deep loosening – does not matter: both methods of embedding provide the same increase in grain yield. The positive effect of manure is manifested during the whole rotation of crop rotation.

Leached and ordinary black earths in the forest-steppe, as well as in the steppe areas, contain little available phosphorus compounds for plants, which explains the high responsiveness of crops to the application of phosphorus fertilizers.

Phosphate fertilizers not only have a beneficial effect on nutrition, but also increase the drought tolerance of plants, 15-20% more productive use of soil moisture for yield formation. The efficiency of mineral fertilizers increases on fields where measures on moisture accumulation, for example, strip planting, snow retention with snowplows.

In the forest-steppe regions of Siberia, well-prepared manure shows high efficiency: making 20 t/ha in the fallow provides an increase in grain yield to 10 (?, probably 1.0) t/ha, taking into account its aftereffect.

Superphosphate is added to the fallow fall, locally by seeder СЗС-2,1 at a depth of 8-10 cm or by cultivator-fertilizer КПГ-2,2 at 10-14 cm. Special coulters for local application of mineral fertilizers are also used.

Nitrogen fertilizers to avoid overgrowth of vegetative mass, and lodging of wheat, make in accordance with the recommended zonal scientific institutions doses.

Soil protection complex

In the forest-steppe part of Siberia, most areas of agricultural land may be exposed to combined water and wind erosion. These processes are particularly strong in the Altai and Novosibirsk Priob’ye. Here the annual growth of gullies reaches 8-10 m, and the depth is 30-50 m. During heavy rains and melt water runoff flush of soil on sloping lands can reach 100 t/ha, in some years – 300 t/ha, with each hectare losing up to 80-100 kg of nutrients and 300-500 m3 of water, which aggravates the negative effects of droughts.

Anti-erosion measures carried out to combat drought, wind and water erosion in steppe and forest-steppe regions of Siberia taking into account local conditions:

  • placement of crops along the slope,
  • application of special methods of tillage and seeding,
  • deepening of the arable layer,
  • improvement of physical and mechanical properties of soil, etc.
  • contour-ameliorative farming system, including methods of agro-, hydro- and chemical reclamation,
  • complex agrotechnical and organizational-economic measures.

In Altai A.N. Kashtanov, RAAS academician, has developed a soil-protection complex, which is based on the principle of integrated use of water and land resources in contour-landscape area organization with application of agrotechnical measures on accumulation, conservation and rational use of moisture and meliorative measures, consisting in terracing slopes with slope more than 8°. To accumulate water in autumn-winter period, stubble is left, strip crops, snow-retarding and forest belts are applied. To reduce water evaporation from the soil, a certain soil treatment is used, green manure is grown, and a mulching layer of straw is spread. For irrigation, runoff water retained in the arable land and collected in reservoirs is used. Every year at the beginning of the season, depending on the moisture reserves in the fields, the placement of crops in the crop rotation and technology of their cultivation are specified.

Agromeliorative anti-erosion complex for the steppe part of Siberia includes bare strip fallows in crop rotations, flat-cut tillage with leaving stubble, snow retention by snowplows.

There is 30-50 mm more water in the one-meter layer of soil under a strip fallow, which allows you to get an additional 0.2-0.45 t/ha of grain of spring wheat.

Preservation of stubble during flat-cutting delays the first snow on the fields, which is almost completely blown away during plowing. The reserves of productive moisture in the one-meter layer of soil at flat-cutting are higher than at plowing: for the steppe subzone – by 20-30 mm, in the forest-steppe – by 35-45 mm. Additional snow retention with snowploughs of СВУ-2,6 type increases the thickness of snow cover and, accordingly, moisture reserves.

Accumulation and preservation of moisture in the soil is also facilitated by mulching with straw, which also has a positive effect on the balance of organic matter in the soil.

Plant protection system

In the steppe part of Siberia, the following are widespread: gray grain borer, wheat thrips, Swedish fly, spotted beetles, stem bread fleas, wheat flower mite, locusts, gophers, rodents, and in some years, the meadow moth. Cereal cicadas and aphids are dangerous as vectors of viral diseases of cereal crops.

Root rot, dusty mildew of wheat and barley, and mildew of oats and millet are widespread and harmful diseases. Powdery mildew, brown rust and wheat septoriosis, oat corking, barley reticular blotch are periodically harmful. Helminthosporiosis of barley and wheat grain (black germ disease) is observed annually.

Among weeds, the most widespread are:

  • vicious root-shoot and rhizomatous perennials: field thistle (Cirsium arvense), field thistle (Sonchus arvensis), Tatar hamster (Lactuca tatarica), field creeper (Convolvulus arvensis), couch grass (Elytrigia) and bromegrass (Leymus);
  • annuals: (Avena fatua), kurai (Salsola), Tartar’s highlander;
  • late spring weeds: green stubble (Setaria viridis), blueberry (Amaranthus), and annual and biennial weeds with a 1-3-year life cycle – Lappula, Artemisia, Henacle (Hyosyamus), Thistle (Carduus), etc.

Fallowing and qualitative soil preparation after non-fallow forecrop are the primary methods of controlling all types of weeds. Systematic flat-cutting cultivation concentrates up to 70-90% of weed seeds in the upper soil layer and partially – on its surface. The seeds which have wintered in the soil give more sprouts in spring than those which have wintered on the surface. Therefore, the tillage of fallow begins immediately after harvesting forecrop with the tools БИГ-3, КПШ-9 and КПЭ-3,8 which embed the crumbled seeds into the soil. Cultivators are more preferable in case of simultaneous weeding by oats, rhizomatous and root-shoot weeds.

Spring tillage of fallow begins after the mass regrowth of weeds.In early spring the first cultivation is carried out before sowing in order to prevent soil dehydration by oat (Avena), couch grass (Elytrigia) and awnless (Leymus) plants.

To effectively control root-shoot weeds, it is important to observe the timing of summer cultivation of the fallow.

A combination of two flat-cutting and two herbicide treatments of the fallow field is effective: the soil is cleaned from weeds and simultaneously provides anti-erosion protection, reduces fuel costs and labor costs.

When the fields are infested with couch grass (Elytrigia repens) it is necessary to carry out 4-5 times the cultivation of КПЭ-3,8 at the depth of the rhizome location – 14-16 cm or use the ОПТ-3-5 additionally equipped with cutter knives and rods-combers on paws-flat-cut scrapers.

Control of awnless brome (Leymus), rhizomes of which lie at a depth of 18-26 cm, consists of plowing fallows in early June at 26-27 cm and subsequent, as weeds grow, cultivation with cultivator КПЭ-3,8.

For the following crops after the fallow after harvesting spring wheat, harrowing by БИГ-3 with an angle of attack of 8-12° is carried out. A similar tillage is carried out after harvesting barley, if wheat crops follow it. Fallen seeds of cultivated and weed plants germinate better in spring and are destroyed by pre-sowing tillage. The tillage with БИГ-3 in the fall allows to embed the seeds in the soil and promotes more active germination in the spring.

The first tillage with БИГ-3 in spring in the fields where seeding is planned for May 22-23, is carried out 10-15 days before sowing with an angle of 16°, the second one – before sowing of crops. For sowing before May 15-20, they are limited to one pre-sowing cultivation.

In Siberia, the crucial factor for early weeds control, and especially wild oats (Avena), is sowing cereals at optimal time: from May 15 to 25 – wheat, and after May 25 to early June – oats and barley.

Pre-emergent harrowing in weed control is quite effective.

General measures of plant protection system:

  • effective and rational integration of the protection system into the farming system and crop technology;
  • implementation of agrotechnical and seed-growing measures aimed at suppressing the spread and development of pests;
  • mastering of crop rotations, observance of the order of alternation of crops;
    qualitative preparation of fallow and plowing fields;
  • qualitative holding of the main, pre-sowing and inter-row tillage of the soil;
  • observance of the optimal sowing dates;
  • harvesting in a short time and maximum reduction of crop losses;
  • efficient weed control;
  • creation of conditions for the reproduction of beneficial organisms and birds, for example, the use of field-protecting forests, grass planting, melioration;
    compliance with environmental protection measures.


Farming. Textbook for universities / G.I. Bazdyrev, V.G. Loshakov, A.I. Puponin et al. – Moscow: Publishing House “Kolos”, 2000. – 551 с.

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Farming and crop production. Edited by V.S. Niklyaev. – Moscow: Bylina, 2000. – 555 с.

Farming in the North Caucasus

The farming regions of the North Caucasus include:

  • Krasnodar Territory;
  • Stavropol Territory;
  • Rostov region;
  • Dagestan;
  • Kabardino-Balkaria;
  • North Ossetia;
  • Chechnya;
  • Ingushetia.

In total, agricultural land accounts for 20 million hectares, of which more than 16 million hectares is arable land.

Natural and climatic conditions


In the forest-steppe part of the North Caucasus and in the foothills, the average annual precipitation is 800 mm. In the zone of unstable moisture the sum of precipitation during the year is 450-600 mm, it includes the Stavropol Upland, flat areas of Krasnodar Territory, Chechnya, Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia and North Ossetia.

The arid steppe zone with precipitation of 300-450 mm per year occupies most of the Rostov Region, northern areas of the Stavropol and Krasnodar Territories.

In the dry steppe subzone average annual precipitation is 200-300 mm, includes eastern parts of Rostov Region and Stavropol Territory. The sum of active temperatures is 3200-3700 °С.

In the steppe and southern areas of the forest-steppe of the North Caucasus are characterized by frequent droughts. Much of the land is subject to wind erosion of soils. Dust storms are most frequent in the Armavir corridor (Stavropol and Krasnodar regions). Wind speed during dust storms can reach 25-30 m/s, accompanied by significant soil blowing out up to 100-200 t/ha.

In areas with rugged terrain, water erosion occurs, with soil washing out up to 15-30 t/ha.


The soil cover of the North Caucasus is mainly represented by southern, ordinary, carbonate, leached black earths with humus content from 3 to 8% with light to medium loamy granulometric composition. Solonchak and solonetzic soils can be found.

In the south of the steppe part, southern loamy black earths are spread, the thickness of the humus horizon is 50-70 cm and the humus content is 4-5%. In the far south, along the northern shores of the Black Sea, dark chestnut and chestnut soils with lower humus content and humus horizon are found in a thin strip. There are patches of solonetz and chloride solonchaks.


The north of the region is dominated by flat terrain, moving southward it transitions to foothill and mountainous terrain. The relief features of the North Caucasus contribute to the development of wind erosion in the plain part and water erosion in the foothills and mountainous areas. Joint erosion takes place in regions with a flat relief, where strong winds and 450-550 mm of rainfall are manifested.


The high proportion of ploughed land in the North Caucasus determines the predominance of cultivated plants in the vegetation. In the less developed mountain and steppe areas – natural vegetation.

Among agricultural crops the largest share belongs to cereals, the main of which is winter wheat. In crop rotations, more than 50% of the area is devoted to it. Industrial crops account for 8-9.5% in Rostov and Stavropol Krai, and 15-20% of arable land in Krasnodar Krai. The share of fodder crops is 25-30%.

According to long-term observations, in the steppe and southern forest-steppe regions of the North Caucasus the best overwintering and development of winter crops are provided in cereal-fallow and cereal-fallow-row crop rotations, including fields of bare or strip fallow.

The main tasks of the farming system

Tasks of the farming system in the North Caucasus:

  • creating a favorable water regime of soils, overcoming the negative effects of droughts, especially in the steppe areas;
  • ensuring conditions for high and stable crop yields on the basis of farming intensification;
  • reproduction of soil fertility;
  • protection of soils from wind and water erosion;
  • optimizing the structure of areas under crops.

The main features of farming in the North Caucasus are frequent droughts and manifestation of wind and/or water erosion, which determines the peculiarities of farming systems. The soil-protective complex includes field-protective afforestation, afforestation of sands, ravines, and river and lake shores.

Crop rotations system

In the conditions of moisture deficit in Stavropol Territory and Rostov Region, the basis of crop rotation schemes is a section with bare fallow, cereal-fallow, cereal-fallow-row crop rotations of short rotation prevail. In Krasnodar Krai, cereal-row, row, and cereal-grass-row crop rotations with large saturation with sugar beet and other row crops are used. Long rotation in such crop rotations is explained by the inclusion of crops that require a long break in sowing and the desire to reduce the area under perennial grasses and bare fallows.

The main task in the introduction and development of field crop rotations for all soil and climate subzones of the North Caucasus is to provide winter wheat with optimal predecessors, the best of which is bare fallow.

On sloping lands with a slope of more than 3° bare (black) fallow is replaced by the sowing of perennial grasses or annual crops of continuous sowing.

Among the seeded fallows the greatest efficiency is shown by sainfoin for one mowing and legume-cereal, such as pea-oat, spring vetch, winter wheat and winter vetch. Positive effect of seeded fallows appears on condition of timely harvesting of a fallow crop, qualitative soil preparation and accumulation of sufficient moisture reserves.

In addition to seeded fallows, leguminous crops are good predecessors of winter cereals. Crop rotations with leguminous crops yield the highest yield of grain per hectare.

Widespread predecessors of winter wheat in the region are row crops harvested for silage, such as corn and sunflowers. However, an important disadvantage of these predecessors is the low supply of moisture and nitrogen at the time of sowing winter crops. The receipt of sprouts of winter wheat is negatively affected by excessive looseness of the soil after plowing, especially after late plowing.

Sugar beet, as a rule, in crop rotations is placed after winter wheat, going on a bare or seeded fallow. Repeated sowing of sugar beet or corn on grain, sunflower and other strong drying soil predecessors is not allowed.

After sugar beet is often placed corn for silage or spring barley. Sunflowers are cultivated at the end of crop rotation, return it to its previous place not earlier than 7-9 years, as otherwise the crops are very strongly affected by gray mold and infestation.

Sample crop rotations for crop rotation systems in the North Caucasus:

  • cereal-fallow:
  • cereal-fallow-row;
    • 5-field: 1 – bare fallow, 2-3 – winter wheat, 4 – corn for silage, sorghum, 5 – spring, winter barley, millet;
    • 8-field: 1 – bare fallow, 2-3 – winter wheat, 4 – row crop silage (corn, sunflower, sorghum), 5 – winter, spring barley, 6 – bare fallow, 7 – winter wheat, 8 – sorghum for grain;
    • 8-field: 1 – bare fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – spring barley with sainfoin, 4 – sainfoin, 5 – winter wheat, 6 – row crop for silage, 7 – winter wheat, 8 – sunflower;
  • cereal-row:
    • 8-field: 1 – leguminous, 2-3 – winter wheat, 4 – sunflower, 5 – seeded fallow, 6 – winter wheat, 7 – corn for grain, 8 – castor beans;
    • 9 – field: 1 – seeded fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – sugar beet, 4 – leguminous, 5 – winter wheat, 6 – sunflower, 7 – corn for silage, 8 – winter wheat, 9 – spring barley with grass sainfoin;
  • row:
    • 8-field: 1 – peas, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – potatoes, sugar beet, 4 – corn for silage, 5 – winter barley, spring cereals, 6 – corn for grain, 7 – sunflower, 8 – spring cereals;
    • 9 – field field: 1 – seeded fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – sugar beet, corn for grain, 4 – corn for silage, buckwheat, 5 – winter wheat, 6 – corn for grain, 7 – corn for silage, 8 – winter barley, 9 – sunflower.

On slopes subject to wind and water erosion, soil-protecting crop rotations with contour organization of territory and banded arrangement of crops are introduced. For example: 1 – perennial grasses, winter wheat, 2 – perennial grasses, potatoes, 3 – perennial grasses, oats + grasses, 4 – winter wheat, perennial grasses, 5 – potatoes, perennial grasses, 6 – oats + grasses, perennial grasses.

Corn and sorghum, perennial and annual grasses, winter and spring cereals are cultivated in fodder on-farm crop rotations.

Tillage system

In arid areas on soils with light granulometric composition, soil-protecting tillage is used to ensure that stubble is retained on the surface, which protects the soil from wind erosion and allows more moisture to be accumulated.

In areas of wind corridors, such as the Armavir corridor, flat-cut tillage is used.

In conditions of sufficient moisture on heavy soils, plowing is carried out at different depths, as well as alternating plowing with flat-cut and surface tillage, depending on the technology of cultivation.

Tillage of bare fallow

Tillage of bare fallow in the strongly arid eastern and southern regions begins with post-harvest loosening of soil with a needle harrow БИГ-3. Within 2-3 days after the first anti-erosion tillage by cultivators КПЭ-3,8 or КПШ-9 at a depth of 10-12 cm is carried out. Until late fall, when the rains fall, harrowing is carried out, which allows to better preserve the stubble and accumulate more moisture. With regrowth of weeds the field is cultivated КПЭ-3,8 or КПШ-9 on 12-14 cm. The main tillage of the fallow falls on the first ten-day period of October by deep loosening cultivators, type КПГ-250 or КПГ-2-150, to a depth of 25-27 cm.

In spring the harrowing and cultivation on 14-16 cm by flat-cut cultivators КПШ-9 in aggregate with rollers ЗКК-6А is carried out which allows to well divide the sowing layer of the soil.

The following tillage of the fallow is conducted by cultivators, the type КПП-2,2 or КПШ-9 at 10-12 and 8-10 cm. Presowing cultivation is carried out to the depth of sowing of winter wheat seeds 6-8 cm. When precipitation falls, harrowing by БИГ-3 is carried out to destroy surface crust and preserve moisture. Wheat is sown with grain core drills across the direction of the prevailing erosion-dangerous winds.

Technology of early fallow preparation. Stubble is not tilled in autumn, so it well protects the soil from wind erosion during winter and early spring and promotes the accumulation and preservation of moisture. Plowing of early fallow is completed no later than the end of April.

The number of surface tillage of fallows in summer depends on soil conditions, rainfall and weediness of fields. In erosion-prone areas it should be aimed at a minimum.

Layered tillage at different depths shows a greater effect than tillage at the same depth. In spring, after top harrowing, with mass growth of weeds, the first deep cultivation should be done on 10-12 cm with heavy cultivators КПЭ-3,8 or КПШ-9. For control of perennial weeds the polydisc-tillers are used at the depth of 12-14 cm and anti-erosion cultivators КПШ-9. Later fallow and rod cultivators are used, gradually reducing the depth of cultivation. The last cultivation is carried out to the seed sowing depth of 5-6 cm.

Deviations in the technology of fallow tillage leads to large losses of moisture, poor clearing of fields from weeds, the development of erosion processes and a significant decrease in yield. Typical mistake in preparation of bare fallows is excessive loosening.

Tillage for winter crops after non-fallow predecessors

The main tasks of tillage for winter crops after non-fallow predecessors are timely first tillage, moisture retention, elimination of clumping and weed elimination. It is important not to allow a break between harvesting the preceding crop and the first tillage.

In this case it is reasonable to start tillage in some vacant parts of the field without waiting for the whole field to be harvested. In this case it is necessary to achieve an optimum formation of the arable layer by harrowing and rolling.

After seeded fallows and leguminous crops the main tillage is carried out taking into account the soil moisture, the species composition of weeds, the possibility of crumbling of the cultivated layer. If crumbling enough good, plowing is carried out at a depth of 14-16 cm combined plowing units or polydisc-tillers ПЛ-10-25 with cutting the top layer needle harrow БИГ-3.

When the soil dries out for winter crops mouldboard plowing replaces the qualitative shallow tillage to a depth of 10-12 cm. For that the harrows БДН-3, БДТ-7, erosion control cultivators КПЭ-3,8 and flat-cut cultivators КПШ-9, КПП-2,2 in combination with harrows БИГ-3 are used.

The high efficiency in preparation of the soil for winter crops after the non-fallow preceding plants is provided by combined tillage aggregates АКП-2,5, which in one pass combine the technological operations of surface loosening, undercutting the soil to a depth of 10-14 cm by the flat-cutter, leveling and rolling. The topsoil layer is not overturned, is well undressed to a fine lumbly structure and leveled, on the surface of the field there is 60% of the stubble unembedded, forming a mulching layer.

Fertilizer system

For all regions of the North Caucasus it is important to suspend the reduction of humus reserves in the soil through the use of organic and mineral fertilizers, grass seeding, sideration and embedding of crop residues. This is especially relevant in the Rostov region, where, as a result of long-term non-compliance with the law of return, significant mineralization (dehumification) of black earth soils has occurred and a negative balance of organic matter is observed.

According to the Stavropol Research Institute of Agriculture, in a 5-6-field crop rotation, the deficit of organic matter per rotation is on average 21-25 t/ha. Mineral fertilizers can reduce the deficit by 2-3 t/ha. Well-prepared manure at the rate of not less than 60 t/ha completely eliminates it. Therefore, to maintain deficiency-free balance of humus it is necessary to apply not less than 8-10 t/ha of manure or 6-8 t/ha of manure with sufficient mineral fertilizers annually. It is necessary to take into account the mineralization of organic matter in the fallow period.

For all regions of the North Caucasus the use of fertilizers for winter wheat gives good results: the yield increase from mineral fertilizers on fallow lands reaches 1.1-1.3 t/ha, non-fallow precursors – 0.8-1.0 t/ha. Sugar beet, sunflower, leguminous, corn, sorghum, alfalfa give a good yield.

In the fertilizer system, the action of the basic fertilizer is calculated for several years of rotation of crop rotations or sections of the crop rotation. For most crops, it is effective to use a row method of application of phosphate fertilizers. Nitrogen top dressing is better to perform on the fields, sufficiently provided with mobile forms of phosphorus. With a low content of phosphorus in the soil is more effective to make nitrogen-phosphorus fertilizer. To improve the quality of grain, fertilize wheat during earing.

Rational and justified system of fertilizers allows you to obtain high and stable crop yields, while increasing soil fertility and product quality.

Soil protection complex

The North Caucasus is a region of active wind and water erosion. Droughts are frequent, especially in June and July. Annual plowing, sharp temperature fluctuations in winter and spring lead to the fact that the soil loses cohesion, resistance to wind and water.

Dust storms cause soil drift, blowing out the seeds, and cutting into young crops. At intervals of 1-4 years, they are observed in the central part of the North Caucasus, in the Armavir wind corridor and adjacent areas. Wind speed during dust storms reaches 30 m/s and soil losses in absence of soil protection measures amount to 100-300 t/ha, which means 1-3 cm layer is blown off, while in some fields in the central part of the region 1000-2000 t/ha or 10-20 cm are lost.

There are 14 main wind corridors on the territory of the region, the total area of which is about 2,2 million hectares, including 1380 thousand hectares in Rostov region, 490 thousand hectares in Stavropol region and 310 thousand hectares in Krasnodar region.

In the wind corridors along with deflation there is water erosion, which is most noticeable in Rostov region, in the foothills and mountainous areas.

In years of droughts and dust storms, yields fall by 1.5-2 times. For Stavropol Krai and Rostov Oblast, droughts vary greatly in time of onset, intensity and duration.

For the regions of the North Caucasus an adapted soil-protection complex has been developed, which became the basis of new land management projects, including anti-erosion organization of the territory of enterprises, soil tillage and crop seeding technology, agroforestry, hydraulic structures to regulate meltwater and rainwater runoff, irrigation.

Soil protection complex for arid regions:

  • introduction of cereal-fallow crop rotations of short rotation with strips of fallow across the prevailing winds with a width of 50-100 m;
  • planting of field-protective forest strips every 250-300 m;
  • tillage with preservation of stubble residues on fallow and arable land;
  • sowing of cereal crops by stubble seeders;
  • arrangement of irrigation systems for sowing forage crops and forest plantations;
    reclamation of saline soils.

Plant protection system

In the regions of the North Caucasus and southern Ukraine, winter wheat crops are damaged by bread beetles and sawflies. Winter moth, Meadow Moth, Turtle Bug, grain flies and aphids, thrips, blister beetles and rodents are widespread.

Widespread diseases of cultivated plants include cereal blight, powdery mildew, root rot of cereals, and false powdery mildew of sunflowers. In some years, some types of rust appear on cereals.

The general measures of the plant protection system for the North Caucasus against pests and diseases and eradication of weeds are:

  • high culture of farming, consisting in the implementation of a set of agro-technical and cultural measures – crop rotation, quality tillage and harvesting, destruction of weeds and sprouts of crumbled seeds of cultivated plants, disinfection of seeding material;
  • improvement of the plant protection service, organization of permanent control over the appearance of pests and diseases, weed infestation on the fields;
  • rational use of means of chemical protection of plants, compliance with the safety requirements of work with agrochemicals and environmental protection requirements;
  • introduction of biological methods of plant protection;
  • observance of plant quarantine measures.


Farming. Textbook for universities / G.I. Bazdyrev, V.G. Loshakov, A.I. Puponin et al. – Moscow: Publishing House “Kolos”, 2000. – 551 с.

Farming in the Volga Region

The Volga region is one of the largest agricultural regions of Russia, comprising more than 48 million hectares of agricultural land, of which about 30 million hectares is arable land.

The main branch of crop production is grain farming. It is in the Volga region that the famous strong and durum wheat is grown, whose quality is recognized as the best in the world.

The Volga region can be divided into 4 major soil and climatic subzones:

  • forest-steppe – includes the Ulyanovsk and Penza regions, the northern districts of the Samara region;
  • arid black earth steppe – central and southern districts of Samara and Saratov oblasts (left bank), northern and central districts of Volgograd oblast;
  • dry steppe – southeastern districts of Samara and Saratov oblasts, central and part of southern districts of Volgograd Oblast;
  • semi-desert steppe – Astrakhan oblast (except Akhtuba), south-eastern districts of Saratov oblast, right bank and Volgograd oblast.

Natural and climatic conditions


The climate of the forest-steppe part of the Volga region is moderate. Average annual precipitation is about 400 mm. The coefficient of moisture availability (according to Selyaninov) is 0.7-0.8. The amount of precipitation during the growing season may vary, but droughts are less frequent than in the steppe part. The amount of precipitation in the second half of the growing season can differ particularly sharply. In general, during the warm period of the year the deficit of precipitation is about 100 mm. The unevenness of soil moisture increases due to the significant dissection of the terrain. Southern slopes suffer from the lack of moisture more.

Arid black earth steppe is characterized by average annual precipitation of 300-350 mm, moisture deficit in warm season can be 200 mm. Depletion of root layer can reach up to 50 cm depth. The frequency of dry years is about 70-75%. Winters, as a rule, have little snow. In summer the air temperature is higher than in the forest-steppe, droughts and dry winds are more frequent. Hydrothermal coefficient varies from 0.5 to 0.7; relative humidity in June-July decreases to 15-20%.

In spring before sowing spring crops the soil is soaked to the full depth of the root layer only in years with sufficient precipitation. Therefore, due to the frequent lack of precipitation in the summer period after the harvesting of most crops, moisture reserves in the meter layer are 20-30 mm. Sufficient moisture reserves are found only on bare fallows.

Dry steppe is characterized by average annual precipitation of 275-350 ml. Moisture deficit only in May-June reaches 250 mm. Moisture availability coefficient does not exceed 0.4-0.5. In autumn and winter precipitation is usually not enough to moisten the entire root layer. Frequent dry winds and periods with relative humidity up to 15-20% are noted. Droughts are repeated on average every 2-3 years, sometimes several years in a row.

The climate in the semi-desert part of the Volga region is sharply arid. The average annual precipitation is 250-300 mm in the north and 180-200 mm in the south. The deficit of moisture during the growing season reaches 350-400 mm. In some years, there may be no precipitation during the summer period. The number of dry years reaches 80-90%.

Already in June natural vegetation burns out, so artificial irrigation becomes very important.


In the forest-steppe, leached and thick black earth prevail in combination with gray forest and brown sandy soils. Podzols are also found. Leached black soils predominate mainly in the northeast of Penza, Ulyanovsk and Samara regions. Their humus content is from 4 to 9%, the thickness of humus horizon is up to 100 cm. Strong black soils with humus content of 10-12% are common in the south and south-west of the Volga region, with the thickness of the humus horizon up to 110-120 cm.

In arid steppe, common southern black earth, clay and loam soils prevail. In strongly arid steppe – chestnut, light-chestnut, brown, saline soils in combination with solonetz (strong saline) soils. They are characterized by high natural fertility, humus content in arable layer is from 4 to 8%, thickness of humus horizon is 40-80 cm. Solonetz soils in natural conditions are not fertile, for their cultivation different methods of melioration are used.

Dark-chestnut, chestnut, complex soils of different degrees of salinity, granulometric composition and erodibility prevail in the dry steppe. Loamy and heavy loamy varieties are widespread. In arable land, solonetz spots can cover up to 20-25% of the area. Along large rivers (Volga, Don) large areas are occupied by sandy and sandy loam soils, exposed to high risk of wind and water erosion. Chestnut soils contain up to 3-4% of humus, the thickness of humus horizon – 30-40 cm. They are prone to compaction and deterioration of water regime.

Semi-desert steppe is characterized by sharply expressed complexity of soil cover. Chestnut, light-chestnut, brown soils and spots of steppe solonetz soils are widespread. The share of the latter is from 15-20 to 40-50% of the total area of arable land. Humus content in light chestnut and brown soils is 1.5-3%, the thickness of humus layer is 13-25 cm. The natural fertility of saline light chestnut and brown soils is small.


The territory of the Volga region is characterized by a rugged relief formed under the influence of centuries of activity of the Volga river and its tributaries. The relief of the right bank is more dissected than that of the left bank. According to A.I. Shabaev (1985), in Saratov region more than 80% of agricultural lands are located on slopes; slope lands with steepness of 3-9° prevail in right-bank part, in left-bank – 1-3°. Horizontal disintegration of the territory in the western part of the Right-bank zone is 0,5-0,6 km/km2, in the eastern part – 0,5-0,9 km/km2, in the littoral zone to the Volga – up to 2,5 km/km2. Such characteristic determines soil susceptibility to water and wind erosion.

In Samara region 65,6% of arable lands are situated on slopes 1-3°, 3-5° – 26,3%, 5-10° – about 3%. The partitioning of the territory by hydrographic network is 0.5-0.96 km/km2.

In Volgograd region almost half of the agricultural land areas are located on slopes and are at risk of water and wind erosion. More than 63 thousand ha are under gullies.

Losses of soil from erosion in Volga region are up to 20-25 t/ha, losses of water due to runoff – 200-500 m3/ha, which causes sharp reduction of crop yield, especially in right-bank part. In a number of areas gully formation takes place, which leads to strong drainage and land desiccation.


Due to agricultural development of lands, the vegetation cover has undergone significant changes and has significantly lost its soil-protective properties. The forest cover of the Volga region is low or very low. Grass vegetation is represented by crops of cultivated plants, mainly spring crops. Perennial grasses account for small areas. Natural herbaceous vegetation is represented by mixed-grass-typchak (Festuca valesiaca)-stipa association of medium (forest-steppe) and southern (steppe) types.

The poorest vegetation is in the arid-steppe and semi-desert subzones. White artemisia-matricaria, stipa-festuca valesiaca, fallopia, festuca valesiaca-artemisia, vitex-artemisia, artemisia pauciflora, limonium-fallopia, mixed-grass-festuca valesiaca-elytrigia, atriplex, artemisia, salsola, saltwort, cereals-juncus, artemisia pauciflora-vitex, matricaria-artemisia pauciflora associations are widespread.

Low soil-protective and soil-improving capacity of natural and cultural vegetation requires an appropriate approach in designing the farming system of the Volga region.

The main tasks of the farming system

The leading direction of farming in the Volga region is the production of grain, mainly wheat, groats and vegetable crops. In connection with sufficiently developed livestock farming, fodder production is important.

The main tasks of the farming system in the Volga region:

  • combating drought;
  • obtaining stable annual harvests;
  • soil protection from water and wind erosion;
  • regulation of water regime;
  • fighting against salinization;
  • application of organic and mineral fertilizers;
  • grass seeding;
  • application of progressive methods of tillage aimed at improving soil fertility;
  • increasing the efficiency of bare fallow and irrigated land;
  • protection of crops from weeds, pathogens and pests.

The main task of the farming system for the majority of the Volga region is measures to maximize accumulation and preservation of soil moisture throughout the year in each field of crop rotation. Agrocomplex on moisture accumulation and soil protection from erosion is developed for the whole crop rotation, taking into account biological features of crops and moisture-saving technologies.

Crop rotations system

The following crop rotations are used in the Volga region:

  • cereals-fallow-row:
    • 6-field: 1 – bare or seeded fallow, 2 – winter crops, 3 – sugar beet, 4 – spring wheat, 5 – millet, 6 – barley;
    • 7-field: 1 – bare fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – spring wheat or millet, 4 – leguminous crops, 5 – winter rye or spring wheat, 6 – barley, oats, 7 – sunflower;
    • 8-field: 1 – bare fallow, 2 – winter crops, 3 – sugar beet, 4 – millet or barley, 5 – leguminous, 6 – winter or spring wheat, 7 – barley, oats, 8 – sunflower;
  • cereals-fallow:
    • 6-field: 1 – leguminous, 2 – winter or spring wheat, 3 – barley or millet, 4 – spring wheat, 5 – corn, 6 – barley;
    • 8-fields: 1 – leguminous, 2 – winter or spring wheat, 3 – barley or millet, 4 – spring wheat, 5 – maize, 6 – winter or spring wheat, 7 – barley or oats, 8 – sunflower.

Taking into account specialization of farms and soil and climate conditions in the central Right Bank the following field crop rotations are recommended:

  • 6-field: 1 – bare fallow, 2 – winter crops, 3 – spring wheat, 4 – corn, 5 – spring wheat, 6 – barley;
  • 7-field: 1 – bare fallow, 2 – winter crops, 3 – millet or barley, 4 – leguminous, 5 – winter or spring wheat, 6 – barley, 7 – sunflower or 1 – bare fallow, 2 – winter crops, 3 – spring wheat, 4 – millet, 5 – spring wheat, 6 – corn, 7 – barley;
  • 8-field: 1 – bare fallow, 2 – winter crops, 3 – spring wheat, millet, 4 – corn, 5 – barley, 6 – leguminous, 7 – winter or spring wheat, 8 – sunflower;
  • 9-field: 1 – bare fallow, 2 – winter crops, 3 – spring wheat, millet, 4 – leguminous, 5 – winter or spring wheat, 6 – barley, 7 – corn, 8 – oats, 9 – sunflowers.

When moving to the south and southeast the aridity of climate increases, so the specific weight of pure fallows in cereal-fallow crop rotations increases. Typical scheme of cereal-fallow crop rotations for the south-eastern part of the Volga region: 1 – bare fallow, 2 – winter or spring wheat, 3 – spring wheat, 4 – millet, 5 – barley, 6 – mustard.

In the most arid regions of the Volga region, where rainfall is 200-250 mm, cereal-fallow crop rotations with a short rotation are used: 

  • 1 – bare fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – millet or barley;
  • 1 – bare fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – spring wheat or millet, 4 – barley.

In areas located near large administrative centers, due to the development of dairy cattle farms and farms with vegetable and potato specialization, the share of fodder and vegetable crops in crop rotations increases. Special vegetable, vegetable-potato and vegetable-fodder crop rotations with irrigation are also used here.

Tillage system

Taking into account soil and climatic features of the Volga region, the following requirements are imposed on the tillage system:

  • ensuring maximum accumulation and preservation of moisture;
  • prevention of water and wind erosion;
  • clearing fields of weeds, destruction of pests and pathogens;
  • creation of optimal conditions for plant growth and development;
  • obtaining high and stable yields.

Despite the great diversity of soil and climatic conditions of the Volga region, this zone is characterized by stable weather conditions. Therefore, the tillage system should match the local soil and climatic, weather conditions, soil type, topography, the degree of weeding of the fields, the features of the predecessors and the requirements of crops.

Three tillage systems based on plowing, non-moldboard and their combination (combined tillage) are used in the Volga region.

In the north, north-west and west of the right bank districts the tillage system based on plowing is used. Plowing with different depths is recommended taking into account the type of soil, predecessor and crop: for cereals – to a depth of 20-22 cm, for row crops – to a depth of 30-32 cm.

In the more arid forest-steppe part of the crop rotations use combined main tillage. In the section of crop rotation with a bare fallow perform loosening (cheiseling), and in the sections with perennial grasses and row crops – plowing to a depth of 30-32 cm. Non-moldboard loosening is used on washed sloping lands.

In sharply arid steppe regions of the Volga region, especially on light soils, non-moldboard (flat-cut, chisel) tillage with stubble remaining on the soil surface is used. This tillage is most effective for moisture accumulation and in the fight against drought and soil erosion.

Presowing soil preparation on the usual plowing consists of harrowing in early spring in 2-3 trails, followed by cultivation as weeds germinate, and before sowing rolling. On stubble backgrounds after flat-cutting harrows БИГ-3 and ring-spiked rollers ЗКК-6А are used. Presowing cultivation is carried out simultaneously with sowing by seeding-cultivators СЗС-2,1. Such combination may not always give a satisfactory quality of work, so if the topsoil is very wet, cultivation and sowing are carried out separately, but without a gap in time.

Fertilizer system

In the forest-steppe, especially in its northern part, the efficiency of fertilizers is higher than in the rest of the Volga region. All cultivated crops respond well to the application of organic and mineral fertilizers. Winter and spring cereals are most responsive to nitrogen fertilizers, and when sowing winter crops after seeded fallows – to the full mineral fertilizer.

Organic fertilizers are applied in autumn under the processing of black fallow at a dose of 20-30 t/ha for fallow-occupied crops, beets, corn and potatoes.

Mineral fertilizers are used as the main fertilizer, during sowing or in the form of top dressing. The main fertilizer is applied during the main tillage of the fallow or soils. Mineral fertilizers, especially phosphorus fertilizers, are effective in rows during sowing and locally.

In the steppe part of the Volga region phosphate fertilizers are effective. The effect of manure in the first year is weaker than in the forest-steppe, but the effect is longer.

Application of organic and mineral, especially phosphorus fertilizers is necessary in chestnut soils.

Phosphorus fertilizers are most important in the Volga region, as they improve plant nutrition, increase drought resistance and winter hardiness of winter crops.

Fractional application of nitrogen fertilizers during winter cereal fertilization in doses of 30 kg/ha a.m. in autumn and spring gives good results.

The best place in the crop rotation for manure application in the steppe areas of the Volga region is bare fallow. 

Doses of organic and mineral fertilizers in the steppe are higher than in the forest-steppe. High fertilizer efficiency in the steppe is possible only with sufficient soil moisture. Therefore, the effectiveness of the fertilizer system strongly depends on the techniques that improve the water regime.

On soils subject to erosion, the doses of organic and mineral fertilizers are increased by 20-30%.

The use of microfertilizers must meet the requirements of cultivated crops. For example, sugar beet and legumes take micronutrients in large quantities than cereals.

Water regulation and erosion protection system

The total area of eroded land in the Volga region is more than 10 million hectares. Every year up to 60% of arable land is washed away. The largest area of washed away lands, more than 4.5 million hectares, is in Saratov region. Wind erosion is manifested on the area of 1100-1300 thousand ha, including 800-900 thousand ha in Volgograd region.

Soil erosion most often manifests itself in case of non-compliance with the requirements of soil-protective organization of the territory and agrotechnics. Correct and scientifically grounded organization of land area is the basis of anti-erosion complex.

On arable lands with slopes 1-3° and poorly washed away soils regular field, forage or special crop rotations with anti-erosion agrotechnics are introduced.

Mid-eroded arable soils on slopes with a steepness of 3-5° and soils of light granulometric composition are reserved for soil-protective field and forage crop rotations.

On moderately and strongly eroded lands with slopes and on deflated soils, crop rotations with strip and contour-buffer organization of the territory are introduced.

In strip arrangement, crops with good soil-protective properties, such as perennial grasses or winter cereals, alternate on each field in strips of 50-150 m with crops with poor soil-protective properties. The strips are placed across the direction of the prevailing winds, or on sloping lands – across the slope or horizontally.

Strongly washed away or strongly eroded lands with steepness of slope more than 5°, it is desirable to allocate under soil-protective crop rotations with perennial grasses and 2-3 fields of cereal crops or completely grassed.

On black earth soils subject to water and wind erosion (right bank) the following soil-protective crop rotation is recommended: 1-4 – perennial grasses (legume-cereal mixture), 5-6 – cereals, 7 – millet with grass undersowing. On chestnut and light chestnut soils subject to water and wind erosion (Left Bank) is recommended the following soil-protective crop rotation: 1-5 – perennial grasses (grass mixture of legumes and cereals), 6 – spring cereals, winter rye, 7 – barley.

Slopes with a steepness of 8 to 16° are grassed in the system of fringing forest strips and shrub bushes or planted.The system of protective plantations and hydro-technical constructions is connected with road network, cattle-runs, irrigation canals so that further use excludes the risk of development of erosion processes.

Agrotechnical anti-erosion measures (complexes) should be developed so that they prevent the development of water and wind erosion in any period of the year. They are developed by forecasting the possible development of erosion processes in individual fields of crop rotation, taking into account soil conditions, topography and properties of crops to be sown.

Under conditions of risk of wind erosion, the reduction of mechanical impact on the soil, preservation of crop residues and stubble on its surface are envisaged. Soil-protective technology of crops cultivation and a system of anti-erosion machines are used on all fields of crop rotations.

On soils subject to water erosion, a set of anti-erosion agrotechnical measures should prevent runoff of melt water and rainwater, washing out and erosion of soils. Melt water on ploughed soil is retained by means of autumn plowing with intermittent furrowing, hollowing or flat-cutting of the soil across the slope. On slopes of more than 2°, plowing with soil deepening and staggered tillage are used. Minimum tillage includes slitting in 2-4 m intervals and across the slope or horizontally.

In order to retain runoff in summer on arable slopes, spring crops are sown across the slope, slitting between rows of tilled crops and fallows, creation of buffer strips on crops and fallows.

It is desirable to carry out contour plowing along horizontals, the direction of which is determined by a leveler, on different-sided and hollow slopes.

Protective afforestation in all subzones of the Volga region is intended for retention, accumulation and uniform distribution of snow, transfer of surface water runoff into subsurface one, prevention of washout and gully formation, accumulation and conservation of moisture in soil and water sources, reduction of negative impact of dry winds and wind erosion. The maximum effect of field-protective afforestation is achieved when used in combination with soil-protective agrotechnics.

Hydrotechnical structures are created in order to immediately stop soil erosion in case of need. They include runoff sprayers, water-directing and water-draining ditches, terrace ramparts, water-retaining and water-draining ramparts, apex and bottom structures, and ponds.

Irrigation in conditions of southern Volga region is the most effective means of drought control. The efficiency of irrigation depends on the quality of irrigation systems, their technical level and condition, the correct use of reclaimed land.

Systems of irrigated agriculture, in addition to observance of general requirements (observance of irrigation norms, prevention of irrigation erosion and secondary salinization, etc.), should be combined with intensive crop rotations with sowing alfalfa, corn for grain and other highly productive crops.

Crop protection system

The Volga Region is characterized by a great diversity of species composition of pests and diseases of crops. More than 40 insect species inhabit wheat, rye, oat and barley crops. The most common are grain flies, thrips, aphids, bread sawflies, grain moths, wireworms, and the pest turtle. Wheat and barley are affected by root rot on large areas, especially in dry years, reducing yield by 0.1-0.25 t/ha. In some years, wheat crops may be affected by dust bunt and rust.

More than 200 pest species inhabit alfalfa crops. Corn sprouts are often damaged by wireworms. Potatoes are greatly harmed by Colorado potato beetle, fungal and viral diseases.

There are more than 200 species of weeds in this zone, including quarantine plants – Ambrosia trifida, Ambrosia pumila, Rhaponticum repens, Helianthus lenticularis and Cuscuta.

Damage to crops is caused by gophers, rodents, false weevils, gnawing moths and meadow moth.

Epiphytotics of powdery mildew and brown rust occur in irrigated and wet years.

Most species of pests, diseases and weeds are widespread in all zones, a smaller part – in certain areas. For example, in the forest-steppe part of the Volga region, cereal flies, biting worms, cereal aphids, powdery mildew and rust fungi are most common. Grain crops in the steppe part are most threatened by turtle bugs, bread beetles, grain flies, grain sawflies, grain moths, leaf and stem bread fleas, grain thrips and wireworms; diseases include brown rust, buntings, powdery mildew, root rot.

In dry and semi-desert steppe of Zavolzhye, crops are damaged by gophers and other rodents, insects such as grain moth, cereal thrips, and bread stalk sawflies. The most dangerous pathogens of cereal crops include root rot, spotted and linear bacterioses.

Agrotechnical methods

An important agronomic method of plant protection system is the observance of crop rotations, correct alternation and change of crops combined with quality main and pre-sowing tillage, observance of optimum sowing dates. Violation of technologies leads to loss of moisture, soil drying, poor clearance from pests, pathogens of diseases and weeds.

Introduction of legumes, row crops, fodder crops and oats into crop rotation allows suppressing root rot pathogens.

Spatial placement of crops is of significant importance. For example, separation of spring wheat crops from winter wheat by 1-1.5 km allows a 4-5-fold decrease in the infestation of spring wheat sprouts by Swedish and Hessian flies.

Biological methods

The biological method can be successfully used to control pests of sugar beet, peas, vegetable and fruit crops. For this purpose, it is necessary to carry out reproduction of trichogramma. Phytoseiulus can be effective against spider mite on cucumber in protected ground.

Bacterial preparations such as entobacterin, dendrobacillin can be used to control leaf-eating pests of vegetable crops, on potatoes against the Colorado potato beetle – boverin, Bitoxybacillin.

Bactorhodencid and bactocoumarin can be effective in rodent control in fields, warehouses, greenhouses and orchards.

Chemical methods

Application of chemical methods should be regarded as an exceptional measure whose effectiveness is evaluated taking into account economic threshold of harmfulness and availability of entomophages.

The sowing material of cereal crops is disinfected against all types of bunt diseases and root rot 3-6 months before sowing.

To prevent powdery mildew and rust, foliar feeding of spring wheat in the bushing-out phase with phosphorus-potassium fertilizers is used. Norms of application: potassium chloride 8 kg/ha, superphosphate 8-7 kg/ha, working fluid consumption – 100 l/ha.


Farming. Textbook for universities / G.I. Bazdyrev, V.G. Loshakov, A.I. Puponin et al. – Moscow: Publishing House “Kolos”, 2000. – 551 с.

Farming in the Central Black Earth zone

The Central Black Earth zone of Russia is the most important agro-economic region of Russia, with great potential for agricultural production. It includes Voronezh, Belgorod, Lipetsk, Kursk, and Tambov regions. According to the state registration data the land stock of the zone is 16,8 mln ha, of which 13,2 mln ha, or 80%, of agricultural lands. Agricultural land includes:

  • arable land – 10.8 million hectares (81.4%),
  • hayfields – 0.6 million hectares (4.5%),
  • pastures – 1.7 million hectares (12.6%).

Forests and bushes occupy 1.7 million hectares (10.1%). Soils are predominantly black earth (chernozem). The Central Black Earth zone is located in the forest-steppe (83,3%) and steppe (16,7%) natural-climatic zones, and is divided into approximately two equal parts by the Don River. The entire territory can be divided into 12 soil-climatic subzones.

Natural and climatic conditions

The main features of farming in the arid steppe and forest-steppe regions are the lack of moisture and the risk of wind and water erosion of soils. In general, the natural and economic conditions of the Central Black Earth zone are favorable for farming.


Climate is temperate and mid-continental with increasing continentality from north-west to south-east, especially in Zavolzhskaya steppe. Average annual air temperature is 5 … 6,4 °С, sum of active temperatures above 10 °С in the north-west is 2300-2400 °С, in the south – 2800-3000 °С. The frost-free period lasts 150-155 days in the forest-steppe and 160-165 days in the steppe.

The annual amount of precipitation in the forest-steppe is 500-550 mm, in the steppe 450-490 mm. The zone is characterized by insufficient and unstable moisture, especially during the growing season. Of the total number of years of observations 25-30% were dry. Droughts are often accompanied by dry winds, the frequency of which increases from north-west to south-east: the number of dry windy days in forest-steppe is 12-15, in steppe – 20-40. Dry winds of weak and average strength occur, as a rule, annually throughout the territory. The hydrothermal coefficient is 0.9-1.2.

Aridity of climate is aggravated by the development of erosion caused by meltwater and stormwater runoff. For example, spring meltwater runoff averages 70-80 mm per year in the north-west forest-steppe part of the zone, 50-60 mm in the central part, and 30-40 mm in the southeast of the steppe part.


Soils of the Central Black Earth zone are represented by black earth (chernozem), forest, sod-podzolic, meadow-black earth and other types.

To the east of the Voronezh and Don rivers are typical thick black earth soils with humus content up to 9-9.5%. In the southern part of the forest-steppe – ordinary black soils with humus content of 7-8.5%. In the south of Voronezh region common low-powered and southern black earths with humus content of 5-5.5% are spread.

In the north-west and north of the zone forest (gray), sod-podzolic, meadow-black earth soils and podzolic black earth prevail. In steppe – black earths, chestnut soils in combination with solonetz soils.

In general, the soil cover of the Central Black Earth zone is characterized by a high potential of biological productivity. V.V. Dokuchaev called the Russian chernozem “the tsar of soils”. Nevertheless, the study of the qualitative condition of agricultural lands shows the need to preserve, improve and increase fertility.


The formation of the relief of the Central Black Earth zone is historically associated with the development of the Don River basin. The western right-bank part represents the Sredne-Russkoe Upland. Height of watersheds is up to 286 m above sea level. The length of gully networks is 1.1-1.3 km per 100 ha.

The left-bank part is divided into elevated (southeastern) and plain (northeastern) parts. The south-eastern left-bank is represented by the Kalachskaya upland, which is heavily dissected by troughs of ancient runoff, ravines and river valleys. The elevation level is 200-300 m above the sea level, length of the gully network is 1,2-1,5 km per 100 hectares. The north-eastern left-bank is the Oka-Don lowland with absolute altitudes of 120-150 m above sea level.

According to the land records in the Central Black Earth zone there is arable land: on slopes with a steepness of 1-3° – 35.6%, 3-5° – 13.9%; more than 5° – 7%; on average for the zone – 55%. Such hilly relief on the background of significant amount of snow (solid) precipitation up to 140-170 mm and melt water, as well as heavy rainfall creates erosion hazardous situation. The largest share of arable land, placed on slopes, is noted in Belgorod region – more than 50%, Lipetsk region – up to 40%, Voronezh region – more than 30% and Tambov region – about 30% of areas. Washout, depending on conditions, is from 5 to 50 t/ha.


The vegetation of the Central Black Earth zone is represented by natural and cultural formations. The territory is characterized by high development, the land used in agricultural production, accounts for about 80% of the total area, afforestation – 10-12%; natural hayfields and pastures are preserved in small amounts in the floodplains of the Don and Voronezh rivers.

Forest cover in steppe areas is insignificant. Grass vegetation is mainly represented by crops of cultivated plants.

Agricultural production is dominated by cereals, including winter crops, row crops (corn for silage and grain, sugar beet, sunflower, potato). Perennial grasses, despite these anti-erosion efficiency, account for only 3-5%.

The main tasks of the farming system

The main tasks of the farming system are:

  • moisture accumulation and drought control, ensuring high and stable annual crop yields;
  • preservation and improvement of soil fertility;
  • preventing water and wind erosion;
  • optimization of crop acreage structure with consideration of natural and economic peculiarities of the zone;
  • preservation of natural landscapes;
  • ensuring ecological protection of the environment;
  • building a rational system of fertilizers, which provides for the use of phosphorus fertilizers in the first place.

All elements of the farming system should be aimed at the accumulation and rational use of soil moisture.

Grain production is the leading branch of agriculture in the Central Black Earth zone. The main cereal crops are winter wheat, winter rye, oats, barley; leguminous crops are peas, vetch; groats are millet and buckwheat; technical crops are sugar beets and sunflowers.The Central Black Earth Region is the main producer of sugar beet in Russia.

Corn crops for silage, green fodder, grain, perennial and annual grasses, and root crops account for 25-30% of the sown area.

Crop rotations system

The following crop rotations are recommended for the Central Black Earth zone: 1 – bare and seeded fallow, peas, 2 – winter cereal crops, 3 – row crops, 4 – spring cereal crops.

It is important to place winter cereal crops on good predecessors, the best of which is bare fallow.

It is possible to expand the area of cereal crops over 60% with high cropping culture by introducing pea crops, in the southern regions of Voronezh and Belgorod regions – pea and corn for grain. In areas where the cultivation of corn for grain is impossible, cereal crops are introduced to expand the sowing of cereals. Expansion of pea and corn crops requires additional measures to control weeds and pests.

In the system of rotations flat land is mainly allocated for row crops, if necessary with a bare fallow, sloping – under soil-protective high proportion of perennial grasses and crops of continuous seeding. On sandy, floodplain and irrigated lands introduce crop rotations, taking into account their fertility.

Systems of crop rotations are determined by specialization and soil and climatic conditions of farming. At enterprises of grain direction cereal-fallow, cereal-row and cereal-fallow-row crop rotations are introduced. At farms of grain and livestock specialization also add crop rotations with perennial and annual grasses. It is economically feasible to allocate near-farm on-farm crop rotations and areas for the production of green and succulent fodder.

The crop rotations of grain and beet farms can be 4-5-field with the saturation of cereals to 60%, sugar beet – to 20-25%, fodder cultures – to 15-20%: 1 – black and seeded fallow, peas, 2 – winter crops, 3 – sugar beet, 4 – spring cereals, 5 – corn for grain, corn for silage.

Sunflower farms may have 7-8-field crop rotations with the total area of industrial crops up to 20-25%, half of which are beets, the other half – sunflowers: 1 – bare or seeded fallow, 2 – winter cereals, 3 – sugar beet, 4 – spring cereals, 5 – peas, 6 – winter cereals, 7 – sunflower, 8 – spring cereals.

Crop rotations with dairy-grain-vegetable specialization of the farm can be eight-, nine- or ten-field, with a share of industrial crops in the structure of sown areas of about 20%. In the forest-steppe zone, most of it is sugar beet, in the steppe – sunflower:

  • for the forest-steppe part of the Central Black Earth zone:
    • 1 – bare and seeded fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 2 – sugar beet, 4 – barley, 5 – peas, 6 – winter wheat and rye, 7 – corn for silage, 8 – barley, 9 – sunflower, 10 – barley, oats;
    • 1 – seeded fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – sugar beet, 4 – barley with lucerne sprouting, 5-6 – lucerne, 7 – corn.
  • For the steppe part: 1 – bare fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – sugar beet, corn for grain, 4 – barley, oats, 5 – peas, 6 – winter wheat, rye, 7 – corn for silage, millet, 8 – barley, 9 – sunflower.

In these crop rotations 3-4-field crop rotations with bare and seeded fallow, peas, corn for silage may be considered as independent crop rotations.

In the north-west districts with sufficient moisture and on irrigated lands, two fields of sugar beet may be introduced: 1 – bare and seeded fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – sugar beet, 4 – barley, 5 – peas, 6 – winter wheat, 7 – sugar beet, 8 – barley, 9 – corn for silage, 10 – sunflower. Mother beet (for seed production) is placed on winter wheat in the first section of crop rotation, while beet-planting is in the second section of crop rotation.

Perennial grasses (clover, sainfoin) are usually introduced into crop rotation after barley and used as an seeded fallow for one harvest for winter crops. If alfalfa has a good productivity it is advisable to use it for 3-4 years. To do this it is cultivated in a withdrawable field according to the scheme (by Sidorov M.I.): 1 – bare and seeded fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – sugar beet + cereals, 4 – peas, 5 – winter wheat, 6 – barley, 7 – corn for silage, 8 – barley, oats, 9 – sunflower + groats, 10 – lucerne (non-rotation field). One year before plowing alfalfa is sown in the sixth field under barley.

Soil-protective crop rotations are used on sloping lands with steepness more than 3°. In order to prevent soil runoff and washout, they are saturated with crops with high projective soil-protective coverage in the most erosion-dangerous periods of the year. Such crops include, first of all, perennial grasses and solid winter crops. The steeper the slope, the greater the saturation with perennial grasses should be. Strongly eroded slopes are set aside for grassing.

The following schemes of soil-protective crop rotations are recommended:

  • 1 – annual grasses with undersowing of perennial grasses, 2-4 – perennial grasses, 5 – winter rye, 6 – barley;
  • 1 – barley with undersowing of perennial grasses; 2-3 – perennial grasses; 4 – winter wheat; 5 – millet.

Forage (on-farm) crop rotations with small areas and a short rotation are used at livestock breeding farms. Approximate schemes of fodder crop rotations (M.I. Sidorov):

  • 1 – corn for green fodder + sainfoin, 2 – sainfoin for one mowing + corn for green fodder, 3 – fodder melons, 4 – annual grasses, 5 – winter crops for green fodder + corn for green fodder, 6 – fodder beets;
  • 1 – annual grasses for green fodder, 2 – winter rye for green fodder + corn, 3 – fodder beet, 4 – corn for green fodder, 5 – fodder melons, 6 – lucerne (non-rotation field).

If forage crop rotations are saturated with alfalfa and winter cereals, they can also perform a soil-protecting function.

Tillage system

Under conditions of frequent recurring droughts, the risk of water and wind erosion, as well as soil and climatic conditions and requirements of crops, the system of tillage in the Central Black Earth zone should solve the following problems:

  • maximum accumulation and preservation of moisture, weakening the negative impact of recurrent droughts;
  • prevention of water and wind erosion;
  • preservation of humus and mineral nutrients;
  • ensuring control of weeds, pathogens and pests;
  • creation of optimal conditions for the development of crops and obtaining high and sustainable yields.

In developing the system of cultivation take into account: the type of soil, the degree of exposure to erosion, amount and regime of precipitation, degree of aridity, requirements of cultivated crops, crop rotation, weediness, and predecessors.

In arid and erosion-prone areas, especially on light soils and slopes, preference is given to conservation tillage.

Plowing is effective in regions with sufficient moisture: under cereals and legumes – 20-22 cm, under row crops – 25-27 cm. Under winter cereals, especially in years with a lack of moisture in the fall, surface tillage with disc and flat-cut implements is carried out. 

Tillage system for winter crops includes the cultivation of bare fallows, seeded fallows, and non-fallow predecessors. Immediately after harvesting the forecrop, discing or flat-cutting to a depth of 8-10 cm to save and accumulate moisture and provoke the germination of weeds. On fields not at risk of water erosion, where organic fertilizers are applied, plowing to a depth of at least 20-22 cm is carried out. On soils exposed to water erosion in the medium and strong degree, especially on slopes with a southern exposure, the tillage by non-moldboard tools or plowing across the slope and horizontally, as well as slotting is carried out.

In late autumn to protect against water erosion and the accumulation of moisture it is carried out trenching, furrowing, etc.

On fields with highly compacted soils to prevent surface runoff of melt water and the accumulation of moisture used late autumn ripping or slitting with special deep rippers, chisels and slitters. These techniques are carried out when evaporation of water from the soil surface becomes minimal or stops completely.

In winter, snow retention is carried out by snowplows or sledge-compactors. Before snowmelt, work is carried out to regulate the flow of melt water, such as banding across the slope or horizontally compacting and blackening the snow.

In spring-summer period all field works are carried out taking into account moisture conservation. To provoke weeds germination and their destruction, early spring harrowing, cultivation, and sowing coulters are carried out.

To prevent erosion on a slope, it is better to place perennial grasses in strips in fallow or to strip sowing of sunflowers in June-July, or corn in 1-2 rows across slope with 25-40 cm distance between them.

Overgrazing of fallow should be excluded. Presowing cultivation is carried out to the depth of seed sowing. To decompact the soil and prevent erosion processes in the fields of winter cereal crops across the slope immediately after sowing, slitting at a depth of 40-45 cm is carried out.

Seeded fallows are widely used in the Central Black Earth zone, especially in the forest-steppe. Winter rye for green fodder, vetch-oat mixture for green fodder and hay, peas and pea-oat mixture for green fodder, corn for green fodder, sainfoin for one harvest, early potatoes are used as fallow crops.

In wet years, after fallow-occupied crops, which free the field 1.5-2 months before sowing winter crops, fertilize and perform the plowing of 16-18 cm or discing with simultaneous harrowing. Further, as the heavy rains fall, carry out harrowing, weed control, pre-sowing tillage with flat-cut working tools to a depth of 6-8 cm.

In dry years the plowing is replaced by surface cultivation with БДТ-7 or БДТ-10 tools with harrowing, presowing cultivation with flat-cut working tools at the depth of 6-8 cm.

After fallow-occupied crops, which release the field for 2.5 months, plowing, fertilizing, and further processing – harrowing and pre-sowing cultivation with flat-cut working tools at 6-8 cm.

Tillage system for winter crops

When cultivating winter cereals after perennial and annual grasses, green conveyor crops and on the fields, released a month or earlier from the predecessors, according to the All-Russian Research Institute of Farming and Soil Protection from Erosion, it is advisable to till the soil 12-16 cm with subsequent slitting immediately after sowing until the seeds germinate. The main tillage on such fields should be completed no later than June 15.

Cultivation of winter crops after corn for silage and leguminous crops on the fields not weeded by rhizomatous and root-shoot weeds is reasonable for surface tillage with disc and flat-cut tools immediately after harvesting the preceding crop, surface loosening and bringing the seed layer of soil to the optimal fine lumbly state with full readiness for sowing winter crops. The first shallow loosening is carried out by disc-tillers type ЛДГ-5, ЛДГ-10, heavy disc-tillers БДТ or needle БИГ-3А harrows in not less than 2 tracks. The second processing is carried out with heavy disk-tillers, flat-cut cultivators, ploughshare hoes, КПГ-2,2, КПШ-5, КПШ-9, anti-erosion cultivators КПЭ-3,8, polydisc-tillers. Tillage depth for the second treatment – no more than 10-12 cm. The implements are aggregated with harrows. In conditions of dry autumn additional pre-sowing rolling of the soil is carried out.

It is optimal to use combined aggregates consisting of flat-cutter КПП-2,2, harrow БИГ-3 and a section of the roller ЗКК-6А or special machines РВК-3,6, АКП-2,5.

If there is enough time before sowing of winter crops and if weeds or soil crust appears, additional cultivation to the depth of not more than 8-10 cm is carried out. Before sowing, pre-sowing cultivation is carried out to the depth of seed embedding.

If less than one month remains from harvesting to sowing of winter crops, the system of surface treatment is used regardless of the predecessor. The main tillage for winter crops should be completed by August 1.

Tillage system for spring crops

Spring cereals and other crops are sown after non-fallow predecessors, i.e. on ploughed soil. Up to 90-96% of all arable land is annually devoted to plowing.

The main factor limiting the yield of spring crops is the lack of moisture. Therefore, the task of autumn tillage is the maximum accumulation and preservation of moisture in the soil and the introduction of organic and mineral fertilizers, clearing the fields of weeds.

Methods of tillage system for spring crops in autumn-winter and spring periods up to sowing should be water-saving and soil-protective.

The new arable land which is not exposed to water erosion is usually cultivated under winter conditions including stubble dicking at the depth of 6-8 cm immediately after harvesting and then in 15-20 days at the depth defined by the requirements of a cultivated crop.

On fields weeded with root-shoot weeds and the most important industrial crops, such as sugar beet, potato, sunflower, autumn tillage includes stubble discing to a depth of 6-8 cm after harvesting cereals, shallow tillage with polydisc-tillers to 12-14 cm with simultaneous harrowing in 15-20 days and plowing in 15-20 days after the second discing.

After perennial grasses, corn, leguminous crops and groats also plowing with preliminary discing is carried out. Pre-plowing discing is carried out immediately after harvesting in at least two tracks on 10-12 cm.

After harvesting sugar beets, the soil is loosened to a depth of 30-35 cm. If there are few haulm leaves on the field, and the soil is loose enough, the plowing is replaced by tillage with flat-cut-tillers or chisel cultivators to a depth of 20-25 cm.

On sloping lands, light and sandy loamy soils subjected to erosion, no tillage is used. Research Institute of Agriculture and Soil Protection from Erosion recommended for the cultivation of spring cereal crops and annual grasses on stubble predecessors and clean of weeds fields to carry out basic tillage flat-cut-tiller with subsequent slitting. Immediately after the release of the field from the forecrop perform surface loosening at 6-8 cm needle harrows such as БИГ-3 in two tracks. In 1.5-2 weeks, if weeds grow massively, the fields are treated with herbicide. On the 10th-12th day after herbicide treatment shall be carried out the surface treatment by flat-cut cultivators, for example, КПП-2-2, КПШ-5, КПШ-9 at the depth of 12-14 cm. After another 1.5-2 weeks after the first tillage loosen the soil with flat-cut-tillers at the depth of 20-22 cm. Layer-by-layer loosening promotes the formation of a fine lumbly structure, eliminates weeds, contributes to the accumulation and preservation of moisture.

Tillage system for row crops

Improved or layer-by-layer under-winter tillage has a high efficiency in the system of tillage for row crops, which consists of:

  • stubble discing by disc implements to a depth of 6-8 cm in 2-3 trails immediately after harvesting the forecrop;
  • stubble discing with polydisc-tillers with simultaneous harrowing or cultivation with flat-cut cultivators to the depth of 12-14 cm 2-3 weeks after the first stubble discing;
  • plowing to a depth depending on the culture with the introduction of 30-40 tons/ha of manure and mineral fertilizers in 2-3 weeks after the second discing;
  • leveling the surface with cultivators КПЭ-3,8, КПС-4, КПГ-4 simultaneously with harrowing.

In recent years, a widespread half-fallow tillage, which is used on soils not prone to erosion. The main tillage in this case is carried out in August – early September. Spring pre-sowing tillage consists of early spring harrowing, cultivation, leveling, rolling of soil.

In a dry spring and the lack of moisture, especially for sowing of small-seeded crops, the pre-sowing rolling of the autumn furrow is carried out with ring-spiked rollers.

In the fields where late crops are sown, carry out 2-3 pre-sowing cultivations. The first cultivation with harrowing is carried out to a depth of 10-12 cm simultaneously or after cultivation for early spring crops as weeds grow, and the second – to the depth of sowing seeds just before sowing late crops, when soil temperature is 10-12 °C. In some years with increased moisture, soil density and weed infestation, the third cultivation is resorted to. The last pre-sowing cultivation is carried out just before sowing strictly to the specified depth, without a gap in time.

Fertilizer system

Compensation of nutrition elements in the fertilizer system at low, average and high soil sufficiency of mobile forms of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium should be respectively:

  • at low – 70-90, 160-200, 80-100%;
  • medium – 90-110, 200-220, 100-120%;
  • at high – 50-70, 100-120, 60-80%.

With limited stocks of mineral fertilizers missing their number of nutrients for the planned yield is replenished by organic fertilizers. To prevent a decrease in humus reserves, create a positive balance of organic matter and increase the fertility of the Central Black Earth zone, it is necessary to systematically increase the production and use of organic fertilizers.

In some districts peat in the form of peat composts, sapropel are used as organic fertilizers.

Liming of acidic soils in the north-west and north of the Central Black Earth zone necessarily precedes the introduction of fertilizers. Doses of lime are determined by the value of hydrolytic acidity. As a rule, lime is used when the hydrolytic acidity of more than 1.8 mg-eq/100 g soil and the degree of saturation of the bases of more than 93%. Simplified, the dose of lime per 1 hectare in tons is numerically equal to 1.5 of the value of hydrolytic acidity in mg-eq/100g soil. The actual dose of lime materials is determined taking into account the content of calcium carbonate, moisture and ballast impurities.

In the crop rotation liming is planned on the fields going for sowing sugar beets, winter wheat, clover, sainfoin. Lime is applied before stubble discking, mineral fertilizers – before the autumn plowing. The repeated liming is carried out in 5-7 years.

Organic fertilizer in the first place is made in rotations, saturated with clean fallow, sugar beet and other row crops. With the share of row crops and bare fallow to 40-50% of the total arable area, the dose of organic fertilizer is at least 10-12 t/ha, with 20-40% – at least 7-8 t/ha. At saturation of crop rotations with perennial grasses up to 20-30% dose of organic fertilizers – up to 5 t/ha.

Organic fertilizers at a dose of 30-50 t/ha made in the field of black fallow, sugar beet, corn, potatoes and vegetable crops.

Mineral fertilizers are used for sugar beet, winter wheat, corn, potatoes and vegetable crops, perennial grasses. Not less than 2/3 of the total application rate is applied in autumn under plowing. For other crops, they are applied locally in the rows and as a top dressing.

The most effective integrated application of lime, organic and mineral fertilizers in crop rotations. The use of significant doses of only mineral fertilizers leads to a deterioration of the physical and chemical properties of the soil.

Water regulation and erosion protection system

Measures to regulate the water regime include:

  • soil and water conservation organization of the land area with the introduction of special soil-protective crop rotations,
  • grassing of heavily eroded areas,
  • application of strip and contour farming on the territory with a complex relief,
  • anti-erosion tillage,
  • water-saving technology of crops cultivation,
  • field-protective and soil-protective afforestation,
  • hydro technical facilities on melt water and rain water flow regulation,
  • irrigation,
  • fertilizer use.

Soil and water conservation organization of land area provides for optimal ratio of main agricultural lands. It is based on systems of soil-protective field, fodder crop rotations and meadow pasture-rotations, system of forest reclamation measures and hydraulic engineering constructions, rational placement of production facilities, road network.

On slopes of 1-2 ° plowing, seeding and inter-row cultivation is carried out across the slope, on slopes of 2-3 ° – plowing across the slope, as well as once every 3-4 years – soil deepening at 30-32 cm. Plowing of furrow is carried out with hollowing, and sowing and tillage of inter-row crops is carried out across the slope. On winter crops – slitting. Non-shaft plowing at different depths and combined tillage are used on erosion-prone and eroded slopes of 3-5°.

Slitting, diking of ploughed fields, creation of micro-irregularities and water-draining furrows are effective. For pre-sowing tillage and sowing – spring slitting with the help of slit-cutting machines ЩН-2-140 and cultivation across the slope.

Forest-reclamation measures are an important component of the anti-erosion complex in the Central Black Earth zone. According to their purpose, forest protective plantations are divided into:

  • field-protective (windbreak),
  • water-regulating,
  • near-wash (arroyo),
  • near-gully,
  • wash (arroyo) and gully,
  • massive (plantations),
  • landscaping,
  • special planting of forest crops near water reservoirs at the dumps of mineral deposits.

Protective forest plantations are placed taking into account the relief, degree of soil erosion, crop rotation and field works.

Water protective forest plantations are created along the banks of water bodies to protect them from destruction and to preserve the waters of local runoff. Around the ponds, protective forest strips of 10-20 m in width are created, they are placed above the level of high water, and in case of steep banks – above the edge of gullies.
To regulate surface runoff, forest belts are combined with simple hydraulic engineering structures, for example, water-retaining and water-regulating shafts, ditches, concrete watercourses, and water-draining and water-dissipating devices. Earthen, fascines, concrete and other structures are used to fix gullies.

Organization of the territory of the enterprise, if possible, should be contour, contour-lane or contour-meliorative.

Crop protection system

Cereal crops in the Central Black Earth zone are damaged by the pest turtle, bread beetle, fleas, aphids, thrips, diaphids and other pests. The most common diseases include smut, rust, root rot, and powdery mildew.

Sugar beet is attacked by wireworms, false wireworms, weevils, beet weevils, fleas and aphids. As for diseases, it is mostly caused by root beetle and capsicum.

Main pests of sunflower include wireworms, false wireworms, caterpillars of various noctuid moths and meadow moths. Diseases of sunflowers include white rot, gray rot, and false powdery mildew (peronosporosis).

Vegetable crops are susceptible to cruciferous fleas, gama moths, cabbage and turnip whiteflies, and cabbage moths. Of the diseases – phytophthorosis, macrosporosis, black bacterial stain, mosaic, various rots, etc.

The plant protection system provides for:

  • observance of correct, scientifically grounded alternation of crops in the crop rotation;
  • application of effective methods of main, pre-sowing, inter-row and post-harvest tillage;
  • observance of the technology of crops cultivation;
  • use of exterminating biological and chemical means of plant protection;
  • high quality of seed material sterile from weed seeds, pathogens of diseases and pests;
  • carrying out preventive measures.

Complex application of plant protection measures ensures maximum effect.


Farming. Textbook for universities / G.I. Bazdyrev, V.G. Loshakov, A.I. Puponin et al. – Moscow: Publishing House “Kolos”, 2000. – 551 с.

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Farming and crop production. Edited by V.S. Niklyaev. – Moscow: Bylina, 2000. – 555 с.

Farming in the Non-Black Earth zone (Russia)

Non Black Earth, or taiga-forest zone.

Table. Scheme of historical development of farming systems and their features[1] Basics of agricultural production technology. Farming and plant growing. Edited by V.S. Niklyaev. - Moscow: "Bylina", 2000. - 555 p. [2]Farming. Textbook for universities / G.I. Bazdyrev, V.G. Loshakov, A.I. Puponin et al. - M.: Publishing house "Kolos", 2000. - 551 p.

Types and kinds of farming systemsThe way the land is usedMethod of soil fertility reproduction
1. Primitive - slash-and-burn, forest-field, old-fallow, swiddenA smaller proportion of arable land is used. Crops are dominated by cerealsNatural processes without human involvement
2. Extensive - fallow, multi-field grassHalf or more of the arable land is under crops. Cereals and perennial grasses prevail in the cropping pattern. A significant area is occupied by bare fallowsHuman-directed natural processes
3. Transitional - improved grains, grass-fieldThe arable land is in cultivation. Crops are dominated by cereals, combined with perennial grasses or row crops and bare fallowIncreased human impact using natural factors
4. Intensive - cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) crop rotation, industrial-plantingAlmost all arable land is occupied by crops. The sown area often exceeds the arable area. Row crops have been introduced.Active influence of human beings by means supplied by industry

Natural and climatic conditions


The climate of the Non-Black Earth zone of Russia is moderately continental, with increasing continentality from west to east. Average annual precipitation decreases from excessive in the northwest to insufficient in the east and southeast.In western areas 700-750 mm (l/m2) of precipitation falls during the year, the sum of active temperatures (active temperature is the maximum temperature during the day, if it was higher than 10 °C) during the growing season reaches 2000-2200 °C, the duration of the growing season is 140 days. In eastern areas of the zone the amount of precipitation during the year – up to 400-500 mm, the sum of active temperatures – up to 1400-1500 °C, the duration of the growing season – 100 days.

The amount of precipitation varies greatly from year to year and during the year. Deviations from the average annual norm in some years reach 50-60%. They are often too little in the first half of summer, i.e. in the most responsible phases of plant growth, and too much in the second half, i.e. during harvesting. There are droughts in the eastern, southeastern and southern regions. For this reason, the system of agrotechnical measures should include methods to provide crops with moisture in critical periods of development and to combat excessive moisture in the second half of summer, in the western and northwestern regions – in spring and summer.

A large amount of precipitation in winter, causes large water reserves in spring during thawing. Therefore, anti-erosion measures against water erosion are necessarily taken into account.

High snow cover, often more than 20 cm, reliably protects winter crops from frost.The average soil temperature minimum at the depth of the tillering node of cereals in most areas is -5 … -8 ° C, that is close to the optimum value.


The soils of the Non Black Earth zone are diverse. Sod-podzol soils of different degrees of podzolization and thickness of sod layer prevail. In the north and north-west of the taiga-forest zone, bog, podzolic-bog, podzolic-gleyey, peaty-gleyey and meadow soils are common. In the south – gray and dark gray forest soils. In the floodplains – floodplain alluvial soils.

Sod-podzolic soils contain 0,8-2% humus, pH 4,0-5,5, saturation with bases – up to 80%, poor in nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium. Biological activity of uncultivated sod-podzol soils is low. Significant areas of natural forage lands and arable land in the northwestern and northeastern regions are littered with stones.

The humus content in gray forest soils is from 2 to 4%, less podzolized than sod-podzolic soils.

Soils of the Non-Black Earth zone by granulometric composition are represented by loam, sandy loam and sandy soils. That determines the methods of basic tillage and cultivation technologies of crops.Often the depth of the arable layer is 18-20 cm and needs improvement of the state of cultivation.


The taiga-forest zone is characterized by heterogeneous relief. In the north, west and center of the zone it is relatively calm, in the south and southeast it is more dissected and erosion dangerous. High terrain fragmentation leads to high runoff of melt and storm water up to 700-1000 m3/ha, washout up to 25-50 t/ha and soil erosion, accelerated gully formation, field drainage and drying, fertility reduction and yield shortfall.

A big disadvantage of land use of farms in this zone, especially in the north and north-west, is the shallow contour of lands, which complicates the mechanization of field work.


The taiga-forest zone of Russia is characterized by high to 70-90% afforestation, especially in the northern and northeastern regions, which helps protect the soil from water and wind erosion.

A variety of herbaceous vegetation is represented by legumes, cereals, motley grasses, well adapted to local growing conditions, contributes to soil fertility.

Tasks of the farming system

Natural and economic conditions allow for highly developed intensive farming in the taiga-forest zone of the European part of Russia, which is proved by consistently high yields obtained in the Moscow and Leningrad regions, for example, cereals to 3-6 t/ha, potatoes to 20-30 t/ha, vegetables to 30-40 t/ha, silage to 40-50 t/ha, perennial grasses to 5-6 t/ha of hay.

Main crops cultivated: winter crops (wheat, rye), spring crops (barley, oats, wheat), leguminous crops (peas, lupine, etc.), fodder crops (perennial grasses, vetch and pea-oat mixtures, corn for silage, root crops, etc.), potatoes, hemp, vegetables, in the southern part – fruit growing. The main production of fiber flax is concentrated in the taiga-forest zone.

In animal husbandry, the main areas of specialization of enterprises in the Non-Black Earth zone are intensive dairy and meat and poultry farming. 

The main objectives of the farming system for the taiga-forest zone:

  • ensuring rational and effective use of lands on the basis of reasonable land management, organization of the territory, optimal structure of sown areas, introduction of appropriate crop rotations, selection of productive for these soil and climatic conditions crops, varieties, hybrids and use of progressive cultivation technologies;
  • creation of conditions for stable receipt of planned harvests of crops with high quality of production, provision of maximum productivity of each hectare of land with the least expenditures of labor and energy per unit of production;
  • ensuring expanded reproduction of soil fertility through intensive improvement of the state of cultivation, elimination of excessive acidity, use of organic and mineral fertilizers, creation of optimal physical and chemical properties of the arable horizon, prevention of water erosion, prevention of excessive compaction, control of weeds, plant pathogens and pests;
  • introducing reclaimed land through development of intensive crop rotations with planting of the most productive crops and use of programmed cropping methods;
  • increasing the productivity of natural forage lands through the use of fertilizers, reclamation, radical and surface improvement, seeding of perennial grasses;
  • exclusion of deterioration of natural landscapes, pollution of soil and water sources with agrochemicals.

The main task of farming system and all its parts is improvement and increase of soil fertility, natural fertility and state of cultivation of which are rather low in this zone.

Organization of land use territory of enterprises in this zone in most cases is contour or contour-meliorative, on flat and drained lands – rectangular.

Crop rotations system

Crop rotations systems in the Non-Black Earth zone of Russia, as a rule, have grain specialization up to 70% of cereals in the structure of sown areas. Spring cereals give high yields after winter rye, going on bare and seeded fallows. Wheat crops are combined with oats, a sanitary crop in the rotation.

With the dairy specialization of farms with developed potato production the following crop rotations are recommended:

  • 1 – spring cereals + perennial grasses (clover with timothy), 2 – perennial grasses, 3 – potatoes, 4 – silage, 5 – potatoes, 6 – silage and root crops;
  • 1 – annual grasses + perennial grasses, 2-5 – perennial grasses, 6 – winter cereals for green fodder + silage, 6-7 – silage.

The area of potato planting in the rotation can be increased up to 30-40% if higher doses of fertilizers, especially organic ones, are applied. Potatoes prefer light soils after winter rye, lupine, pelushka (Pisum sativum), buckwheat and stubble crops.

With vegetable specialization of farms recommend the following vegetable crop rotations:

  • 1 – annual fodder crops, 2 – carrots, 3 – cabbage, 4 – table beets and fodder root crops, 5 – potatoes, 6 – cabbage (clubroot-resistant varieties; vegetable crops in the rotation 50-60%);
  • 1 – annual forage crops, 2 – cabbage, 3 – carrots, 4 – cabbage (clubroot-resistant varieties), 5 – table beet and fodder root crops (vegetable crops in the rotation are 70%).

In intensive field flax crop rotations flax is placed after or one year after perennial grasses as well as on row crops or winter cereals in order to prevent flax fatigue. Flax accounts for up to 14% of arable land in crop rotations. When using Fusarium-resistant varieties and means of chemical protection, its specific weight in the rotation can be increased.

Due to the livestock direction of agriculture in the zone, fodder crop rotations are widespread. It is recommended to have two main types of fodder crop rotations at the enterprise: on-farm and grass-row, on hayfields and pastures – hay-and-pasture.

On-farm crop rotations are dominated by low-transportable crops, sometimes potatoes, with extensive use of intermediate crops such as fodder cabbage and rutabaga, turnip, rapeseed, oil radish, winter rye for green fodder, and annual grasses. Productivity of on-farm crop rotations reaches up to 8.5 t/ha fodder unit.

Inclusion of perennial grasses in on-farm crop rotations makes them grass-row. Row crops are sown after perennial grasses. For example, the following fodder crop rotations are recommended in the Moscow region:

  • 1 – annual grasses + perennial legumes or legume-grasses, 2-4 – perennial grasses, 5 – silage crops;
  • 1 – annual grasses + perennial legumes or legume-grasses, 2-4 – perennial grasses, 5 – winter cereals + crop residues, 6 – root crops;
  • 1 – vetch-oat mixture with undersowing of perennial grasses (clover + alfalfa + awnless bromegrass), 2-4 – perennial grasses, 5 – silage and root crops;
  • 1 – forage-grass mixture with undersowing of perennial grasses, 2-4 – perennial grasses, 5 – winter crops for green fodder (post-mowing fodder), 6 – silage and root crops.

Approximate scheme of hay and pasture crop rotation: 4-6 years – perennial grasses, 1-2 years – annual forage crops. The advantages of such crop rotations are high soil-protecting qualities and the yield of fodder units from 1 ha reaches 7-7,5 thousand.

A number of enterprises in the Non-Black Earth zone use various combined vegetable and fodder, grain-fodder and other crop rotations.

Tillage system

The main requirements for the system of tillage in the taiga-forest zone:

  • accelerated improvement of the state of soil cultivation;
  • prevention of development and spreading of negative soil processes, such as erosion, acidity increase, deterioration of water, nutrient and air regimes, excessive compaction, weediness;
  • creation of conditions for expanded reproduction of soil fertility;
  • growth of plant productivity through the formation of optimal agrophysical, agrochemical properties and effective use of fertilizers.

Methods of tillage system should take into account local features, such as soil type, erosion risk, topography, weather conditions, cropping patterns and cultivation technology, fertilizer system, weediness, presence of disease and pest agents.

Fertilizer system

Fertilizer system is built for each crop rotation based on agrochemical study of fields (plots), requirements of crops, intensity of technologies, take into account the type of soil and its properties.

Most soils of the Non-Black Earth zone of Russia contain a small amount of humus, which determines their low microbiological activity, poor physical properties and nutrient regime. Sod-podzolic, podzolic and sod-gley soils are poor primarily in nitrogen and phosphorus, but also in calcium, potassium, magnesium, etc. Sandy and sandy loam soils contain even less organic and mineral nutrients than heavy soils.

Soils of the Non-Black Earth zone are characterized by high acidity, the presence of mobile aluminum in the plowing and subsoil layers, which negatively affects the development and yield of the sown crops, the effectiveness of mineral fertilizers. Liming is used to neutralize excessive acidity.

Liming is carried out in full doses in areas with strongly and moderately acidic soils. On slightly acidic soils, systematic supporting liming which compensates the natural loss of carbonates is carried out, not allowing a big gap in time between liming. In areas where the area of acidic soils account for 30-60% of the total arable area, along with supporting liming carry out intensive liming of highly acidic soils.

The effectiveness of liming is determined by the right choice of its place in the crop rotation, timing and other technological conditions. In field and forage crop rotations lime is optimal to make under the cover crops. In specialized potato crop rotations lime is introduced immediately before planting potatoes with simultaneous application of double doses of potassium.

To ensure a positive balance of humus on sod-podzolic soils, 15 to 20 tons/ha and more of organic fertilizers should be made annually, on sandy soils – up to 30 tons/ha and more.

Litter-free semi-liquid manure of industrial livestock complexes is used for direct application to soil and preparation of composts. Bedding-free chicken manure should be composted with straw, peat, crop residues or soil.

Liquid organic fertilizer is used when irrigating crops in fodder crop rotations, located near livestock complexes.

It should be borne in mind that mineral fertilizers change the agrochemical properties of soil, such as the reaction of the soil solution, exchange and potential acidity, the composition of the absorbed bases, which has a significant impact on the living conditions of plants and soil microorganisms.

Especially dangerous is the excess of nitrate forms of nitrogen, dramatically worsening the quality of vegetables, potatoes, fodder, up to the poisoning of people and animals.

The need for fertilizers is determined for each field of the crop rotation, taking into account the data of agrochemical survey, the requirements of cultivated crops, the granulometric composition of the soil, type and form of fertilizers, methods and timing of application, the depth of embedding.

Areas of the Non-Black Earth zone of Russia


The soils of the northwestern area of the Non-Black Earth zone are characterized by low fertility, excessive moisture and a tendency to waterlogging. Under conditions of lack of heat and poor soil aeration, it is necessary to carry out agro-ameliorative measures to eliminate excessive moisture, improve aeration and thermal regime.

To eliminate excessive moisture, narrow-paddock plowing, creation of ridged and ridge-shaped surfaces, deep chiseling, and slitting are used.

Deep loosening is one of the methods to improve water and air regimes of lower soil layers.

In conditions of risk of water erosion, plowing across the slope, deep loosening, slitting, and holling are used.


A significant part of the sod-podzolic soils of the northeast of the Non-Black Earth zone is formed on topsoil loams, more saturated with bases and underlain by porous carbonate rocks. Their state of cultivation is low.

The most effective methods of basic cultivation of sod-podzolic soils with poor state of cultivation and with high acidity is plowing with ploughs with soil-deepeners and ploughs with notched bodies. Efficiency of subsoil loosening increases at low thickness of arable layer and poor state of soil cultivation. Mineral fertilizers and lime are used to increase fertility on sod-podzolic soils with poor state of cultivation.

With deep enough cultivation of arable layer, systematic use of organic and mineral fertilizers and lime allows you to alternate in the rotation methods of mouldboard, non-moldboard, deep and surface tillages.

To combat water erosion, plowing across the slope, deep loosening, slitting and holling are used.


The central area of the Non-Black Earth zone of Russia has a longer warm period, the proportion of soils with a good state of cultivation is higher than in the northwestern region. Therefore, farming is more intensive with a wide range of cultivated crops, crop rotations and applied technologies.

The system of main tillage in the central area provides for regular turning of the arable layer. Along with plowing to a depth of 20-22 cm for cereals and 25-27 cm for row crops, the system of tillage in crop rotations is complemented by surface and deep loosening (chiseling).

After harvesting cereals and flax perform autumn tillage, which includes postharvest stubble loosening (discking) and the subsequent 2-3 weeks later plowing plow with skimmers to a depth of the arable layer with deepening.

On fields clean of weeds after row crops plowing is replaced by surface tillage for winter rye and wheat, vetch-oat and pea-oat mixtures.

On light sandy loamy and sandy soils is promising use of non-moldboard tillage techniques, contributing to protection of soils from wind erosion, accumulation of organic and mineral substances.

For the central area the most effective early autumn tillage, which depending on the objectives and conditions can be supplemented by subsequent cultivation, dicking, creating water retention devices, loosening, furrowing, slitting, etc.


Farming. Textbook for universities / G.I. Bazdyrev, V.G. Loshakov, A.I. Puponin et al. – Moscow: Publishing House “Kolos”, 2000. – 551 с.

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Farming and crop production. Edited by V.S. Niklyaev. – Moscow: Bylina, 2000. – 555 с.

Types of farming systems

All farming systems, both former and existing at present, are characterized by the ways of land use, maintenance and improvement of soil fertility. The way of land use is determined by the ratio of land holdings and the structure of sown areas, and the way of increasing effective fertility by a complex of agrotechnical and reclamation measures. These attributes determine the intensity and rationality of the farming system.

Table. Scheme of historical development of farming systems and their features[1] Basics of agricultural production technology. Farming and plant growing. Edited by V.S. Niklyaev. - Moscow: "Bylina", 2000. - 555 p. [2]Farming. Textbook for universities / G.I. Bazdyrev, V.G. Loshakov, A.I. Puponin et al. - M.: Publishing house "Kolos", 2000. - 551 p.

Types and kinds of farming systemsThe way the land is usedMethod of soil fertility reproduction
1. Primitive - slash-and-burn, forest-field, old-fallow, swiddenA smaller proportion of arable land is used. Crops are dominated by cerealsNatural processes without human involvement
2. Extensive - fallow, multi-field grassHalf or more of the arable land is under crops. Cereals and perennial grasses prevail in the cropping pattern. A significant area is occupied by bare fallowsHuman-directed natural processes
3. Transitional - improved grains, grass-fieldThe arable land is in cultivation. Crops are dominated by cereals, combined with perennial grasses or row crops and bare fallowIncreased human impact using natural factors
4. Intensive - cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) crop rotation, industrial-plantingAlmost all arable land is occupied by crops. The sown area often exceeds the arable area. Row crops have been introduced.Active influence of human beings by means supplied by industry

The farming of the early period is characterized by low development of productive forces, use of the natural properties of the land, and the absence of any measures to restore and increase fertility.

As the transition from primitive forms of farming to more developed forms, the ratio of groups of crops becomes a decisive feature, in particular grains and technical continuous crops, forage grasses and row crops. The development of farming leads to improvements in the methods of restoring and improving soil fertility. If at the early stages natural processes of restoration dominated, then in intensive farming the decisive role is given to purposeful human activity through the use of fertilizers, especially mineral fertilizers, melioration, machinery, chemical and biological means of plant protection, etc.

Changing the method of restoration and improvement of fertility, in turn, allows to create conditions for cultivation of more demanding and productive crops, revision of their ratio in the structure of cultivated areas and applied agro-techniques.

Farming system was often named by the character of crop rotation, as it is based on the structure of cultivated areas and the most important agrotechnical and organizational measures. 

Farming systems developed in the following sequence: primitive, extensive, transitional, intensive.

Slash-and-burn, forest-field, fallow and swidden systems of farming are the first primitive forms of farming. They were used by people from the times of nomadic way of life. For primitive farming systems are characterized by small to 25% use of land for crops, the long natural process of restoring soil fertility, low productivity per unit area and high manual labor costs. In Russia, primitive farming systems were used in most of the territory until the XV-XVI centuries, in some regions of the South-East, Kazakhstan and Siberia – until the beginning of the XX century.

Primitive farming systems

Slash-and-burn and forest-field farming systems

Slash-and-burn farming system is a method of land development by burning natural forest vegetation. The freed area after a primitive surface tillage was used for the sowing of cultivated plants, such as cereals or flax. It was widespread in the northern part of Russia in the development of lands overgrown with forest.

People came to this method of land development as a result of observations: the plots after forest fires developed lush natural herbaceous vegetation.

By fertilizing with ash, the soil was enriched with nutrients and helped to neutralize the acidic reaction. Nitrogen was formed by decomposition of forest litter, residues of herbaceous vegetation and the activity of nitrogen-fixing microorganisms. This approach allowed good yields of cereal crops and flax in the first two years. However, later the soil quickly lost its fertility, its physical and chemical properties deteriorated and microbiological processes slowed down.

To prolong the period of use of developed plots, they sometimes began to leave the plots without crops for one or two years and apply manure if the underdeveloped livestock breeding allowed it. However, these measures did not prevent a decrease in the yield of cultivated crops. When the yields fell to a very low level, the farmer left the developed plot and moved to another one, and the former one was overgrown again.

With the emergence of private land ownership and as the arable area increased, it became necessary to return to the plots previously used for crops but abandoned and overgrown with forest. Thus the forest-field system of farming emerged, partially replacing the slash-and-burn system.

The swidden and forest-field systems are commonly referred to the period of the slave-owning system.

Old-fallow and swidden system of farming

Old-fallow farming system is a method of developing virgin lands with high natural fertility, occupied by grassy steppe vegetation, which were ploughed and sown with grain plants, less often with oilseed flax or melons. 

To ensure the mobilization of nutrients and the accumulation of moisture, the raised virgin lands were left to fallow for a while. However, the repeated cultivation of cereal crops led to a gradual decrease in yields.

For this reason, it became more profitable to leave a plot after use as fallow land (a long unused plot, “old-fallow”) and develop a new virgin steppe plot. The plot left for fallow land was overgrown with weeds, and 15-20 years later, after the typical virgin vegetation appeared on it, it was ploughed and used again for crops. Thus, the original fallow system evolved into a swidden system.

“The swidden system directly emerged from the way the steppes were populated, from the nomadic nature of the peoples who inhabited them, from the excess of land space relative to the population, from the unparalleled productivity of the steppe black soil”.

A.V. Sovetov.

The main difference between the old-fallow and swidden systems is that the old-fallow system does not return to the abandoned ploughed areas. Whereas in the swidden system the land mass was divided into several plots, some of which were used for seeding cereal crops, the rest, which had lost their fertility, were left as swidden plots for 10-30 years. After the natural recovery of fertility, the swidden plots were cultivated again and sown with cultivated plants.

Soil fertility was restored naturally by means of various herbaceous vegetation. Due to higher natural fertility of steppe zone soils and the role of perennial and other herbaceous vegetation in fertility reproduction, the period of its recovery was much shorter compared to forest vegetation. Crops were planted on the same plot for 6-8, sometimes 10 years.

Old-fallow and swidden systems of farming are characteristic of steppe areas, so they were widespread in a number of countries with steppe lands. In Russia they were widespread in the Black Earth zone, the Volga region, and less common in the south of the country.

With the development of natural sciences, in particular, the theory of plant nutrition, the scientific justification of these farming systems changed as well. With the dominance of the humus theory of nutrition the restoration of soil fertility was explained by the influence of natural herbaceous vegetation on humus accumulation (A. Thayer, I.M. Komov, M.G. Pavlov). With the creation of the theory of mineral nutrition of plants, the decline in grain yield for a number of years after the plowing of virgin land was explained by the depletion of soil phosphorus and other nutrients (K. Libich).

P.A. Kostychev, examining samples of virgin black earth soils and old arable lands, established the absence of a noticeable difference in their chemical compositions. The old-fallow black earth soils also contained a sufficient amount of humus, while the virgin lands had a better soil structure. However, P.A. Kostychev did not think that the loss of structure was the only reason for the reduction of cereal crop yield after plowing the virgin land. The land had to be left fallow, not because it was depleted, but because of weed infestation, which could not be combated by ordinary tillage. Therefore, it was much more profitable to move to a new plot.

Extensive farming systems

Extensive farming systems are characterized by an increase in crop production due to expansion of agricultural land without additional investments of labor and funds per unit area. Extensive farming systems include fallow, or cereal-fallow and multi-field-grass systems.

The degree of intensity of fallow and multi-field-grass farming systems is much higher than the primitive forms. Most of the land suitable for cultivation is converted into arable land. However, large areas are allocated for bare fallow, cereals or perennial grasses predominate among crops, and highly productive forage and industrial crops are practically absent. Soil fertility is maintained through natural factors, directed to a greater extent by human beings, e.g. by sowing grasses and cultivating fallows, and to a lesser extent by means of industrial inputs. For this reason, farming systems are not classified as intensive.

Fallow system

The fallow system is a farming system that replaced the swidden and old-fallow systems, in which fallow fields were introduced.

The need to introduce fallow fields was justified by the fight against weeds. Management and economic conditions forced to reduce the period of fallow fields and at the same time the duration of use of ploughed fallow fields for sowing crops. For this reason, in order to suppress weeds and rationally use the land, fallow tillage between cereal crops was introduced. Thus, the swidden system turned into a transitional swidden-fallow form and in some cases – directly into fallow system.

The emergence of the fallow system of farming occurred during feudalism. Population growth led to an increase in the demand for agricultural products, which caused the expansion of the agricultural area and a reduction in the time to 1-2 years of using swidden fallow.

The fallow system can be considered a better farming system, as land use improved and grain production increased. The appearance of commercial grain in Russia is associated with the beginning of the use of the fallow system.

Soil cultivation in the fallow field combined with the application of fertilizers, primarily manure, was human intervention in the natural soil processes, which led to an increase in yields. Cereal crops in the fallow system account for up to 2/3 of the arable area, with fallow fields occupying the rest.

The most common crop rotations of the fallow system were:

  • two-field: 1 – fallow, 2 – cereals;
  • three-field: 1 – fallow, 2, 3 – cereals;
  • less often four-fallow: 1 – fallow, 2, 3, 4 – cereals.

A great disadvantage of the fallow system was the absence of fodder crops, which had a negative effect on livestock production. The ploughing of swidden plots also led to the reduction of pastures. A fallow field was used to graze cattle in spring and summer and autumn after the grain harvest, the rest of the fields were used. However, this approach did not provide livestock with sufficient fodder. Livestock productivity decreased, as did the amount of manure, which in turn had a negative effect on crop yields. Cattle breeding, not having a solid basis, was called manure agriculture.

Despite the progressiveness of the fallow system compared to swidden and old-fallow systems, untimely tillage of fallow and fields due to grazing, poor tillage, constant cultivation of annual cereal plants led to weeding, decreased fertility and deterioration of physical properties of the soil. Low cropping culture led to the development of erosion in many regions, and yields remained rather low and unstable. For example, grain yields were 0.5-0.7 t/ha, and in dry years not even seeds were harvested.

In the central regions of Russia, the fallow system appeared in the beginning of the 16th century, became widespread and remained the main till 1917. V.I. Lenin characterized the cereal-fallow system of tsarist Russia as the most conservative and subjected it to serious criticism, not providing the most basic conditions for progress in agriculture.

Under the conditions of socialist agriculture, the cereal-fallow farming system acquired a different significance. Thanks to good technical equipment, the best timing of tillage of fallow and other fields of the crop rotation, the application of optimal amounts of fertilizers, and the carrying out of variety sowing, the cereal-fallow system has shown its effectiveness. It with three-field or four-field crop rotations in conditions of application of soil-protective, forest-reclamation measures and modern technologies of crops cultivation is used even now in a number of arid regions of Kazakhstan and Siberia, in which other cropping systems are less effective due to special climatic, soil and economic conditions.

In Western Europe, the fallow farming system has not been used for a long time. It has survived only in the grain farms of arid regions of the USA, Canada and some other countries, where its application is economically justified.

Multi-field-grass system

Multi-field-grass, or pasture system was a farming system in which a limited part of land was allocated for cereals and other crops, and most of it – for perennial grasses, which were first used as natural grasses, then sown for hay and grazing for 4-6 years. Was common in some seaside and mountainous areas of different countries. It resulted from the development of cattle breeding.

Due to the dual nature of the use of perennial grasses, A.S. Ermolov considered it correct to call this system not a pasture, but a multi-field-grass system. Fertility of soil in this system is maintained by natural factors, however, directed to a certain extent by man by grass sowing and tillage of fallow fields.

An example of such a system is the Mecklenburg system, which originated in Germany in the mid-18th century as a development of the fallow system.

In regions with a more continental climate, the multi-field-grass system has shown less efficiency in comparison with cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) crop rotation and other systems with fodder crops.

In the Non-Black Soil zone, multi-field-grass crop rotations were used in combination with cereal and fallow crops. Thus, at the farm of Engelhardt (Smolensk region) a 15-field crop rotation was applied: 1-6 – perennial grasses, 7 – flax, 8 – fallow, 9 – rye, 10 – spring, 11 – fallow, 12 – rye, 13 – spring, 14 – fallow, 15 – rye.

From 1871 to 1897, the farm of Petrovskaya Academy (now K.A. Timiryazev Moscow Agricultural Academy) used a 12-field Markovsky crop rotation, in which six fields were devoted to perennial grasses.

The multi-field-grass system also has disadvantages. For example, there are no intensive row crops and industrial crops in the crop rotations, the use of fertilizers and ameliorants is limited, which affects the relatively low yield per unit area at high costs.

Large areas sown with selfseeding leguminous grasses (alfalfa and clover) allow the application of nitrogen fertilizers to be dispensed with. However, the productivity of arable land does not change significantly.

This system is used at present in sparsely populated countries with large land resources, for example, in Australia, where the average population density of one person per 1 km2.

In Russia, the multi-field-grass cropping system in its pure form is not widespread, although its individual elements, for example, soil-protective multi-field-grass forage crop rotations in combination with crop rotations of other systems are successfully used. For example, in some areas of the former USSR republics: the Baltic States, western Ukraine, Belarus.

Transitional farming systems

Transitional systems of farming include improved cereal and grass-field systems, which are a continuation of the improvement of cereal-fallow and multi-field-grass systems. Transitional systems of farming were known already in Ancient Rome, but became widely used in Western Europe only in XVIII-XIX centuries.

In Russia, they appeared in different forms with the use of grass sowing in the second half of the 18th century in farms with developing dairy cattle breeding, specializing in the cultivation of industrial crops, primarily in landowners’ farms.

The improved cereal and grass-field systems are transitional forms from extensive farming to intensive farming. They differ from the previous systems by fuller use of arable land, the introduction of row crops or perennial grasses in crop rotations.

Transitional farming systems are characterized by the development of farming machinery, improved tillage. They significantly contributed to the development of livestock and increase the amount of organic fertilizers. At the same time, the role of human activity in the reproduction of soil fertility has increased and crop yields have increased. However, these forms of farming did not allow sufficient use of the intensification of production.

Improved grain system

The improvement of the grain-fallow (cereal-fallow) farming system occurred due to the introduction of one or two fields of perennial grasses into the crop rotation. Examples are:

  • I.I. Samarin’s four-field crop rotation that arose in Yaroslavl province in the early 19th century: 1 – fallow, 2 – winter crops with undersowing of clover, 3 – clover, 4 – spring cereals;
  • Volokolamskoe eight-fields in the Moscow Province: 1 – fallow, 2 – winter crops sown with clover and timothy, 3-4 – clover and timothy, 5 – spring cereals, 6 – fallow, 7 – winter crops, 8 – spring cereals.

Later in the crop rotations of the Non-Black Soil zone seeded fallows began to appear, partially reducing the areas of bare fallows, leguminous and row crops.

In the Black Earth regions, fields with row crops occupied by sugar beet, corn or sunflower were introduced into grain-(fallow) crop rotations: 1 – fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – sugar beet or corn, 4 – spring wheat or barley.

Multi-field-grass farming system was also gradually improved to improved grain farming system by reducing the area under perennial grasses and increasing the share of crops sown with cereals.

The improved grain system was widespread in the Non-Black Earth zone. Cereal-grass crop rotations accounted for half to 2/3 of the arable land, 15-25% under bare fallow and 20-30% under perennial grasses. As a rule, row and leguminous crops were cultivated. Soil fertility was maintained through perennial grasses, fallow cultivation, and fertilizers, especially manure.

The introduction of perennial grasses and row crops into crop rotations significantly improved the fodder base of cattle breeding. The inclusion of row crops made it possible to improve the techniques of tillage, fertilization and increased the general culture of farming.

In Western Europe, the improved grain system was widespread in Germany, Austria, and some areas of France.

The improved cereal system was improved: the area of bare fallows was reduced by replacing them with seeded fallows, row crops were introduced into the crop rotations, and the transition to the cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) crop rotation system gradually took place. A.S. Ermolov called such transitional forms an improved grain system with more or less developed fruit-changing.

At present, this system of farming is used in the grain areas of the south, southeast of European Russia, less in Siberia. Under these conditions, it has shown good efficiency and became known as a fallow-row system.

In fallow-row crop rotations cereals account for 50 to 70% of arable land, row crops, leguminous plants and groats – 15-20%, bare fallows – 15-20%. Reproduction of soil fertility is carried out through intensive cultivation of fallow and row crop fields, which are also a means of weed control, fertilization, application of moisture retention measures.

An example of fallow-row crop rotation is the four-field crop rotation recommended by I.A. Stebut for farms with a potato direction: 1 – fallow, 2 – oats, 3 – potatoes, 4 – spring crops. In beet-growing areas, a similar four-field crop rotation with sowing of sugar beet after winter cereals was used.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the fallow-row five-field system, in which two crops were sown after fallow: in Siberia – two spring crops, in the southeast – winter and spring crops, followed by row crops and spring cereals, became widespread.

In the modern variant of the improved grain system – cereal (grain)-row system – the improvement of the structure of sown areas, the introduction of rational crop rotations adapted to natural conditions, the use of more perfect tillage systems in combination with scientifically justified system of fertilization and sowing of cereal and row crops varieties, allowed to use it quite successfully. In the cereal-fallow system of farming, most of the arable land falls on cereal and row crops in combination with bare fallow. Soil fertility is reproduced by tillage and fertilizer application.

Cereal-fallow-row farming system is more perfect, the yield per unit area compared to the improved grain system is much higher. It is widespread in the steppe regions of the Volga region, Ukraine, the North Caucasus, the Central Black Earth zone, in recent years – in the steppe regions of Siberia, Trans-Urals and Kazakhstan.

Sideral system can also be attributed to the improved grain system, in which all the green mass grown on the fallow field is plowed as a green fertilizer. The origin of this system dates back to ancient times: it was known in ancient Greece, the Roman Empire and the countries of the East. However, only at the end of the XIX century Schulz-Lupitz in Germany formulated the basics of the system of farming with the use of green and mineral fertilizers. It was widespread in regions with a fairly humid climate and poor sandy and sandy loam soils. Most often bitter annual lupine was used as a green manure, less often perennial lupine. After the development of alkaloid-free fodder lupine, it became the most widespread.

Late plants for green fertilizer began to be sown on stubble, after harvesting the main crop, and the sideral system has lost its independence, as stubble crops can be cultivated under any farming system.

Under modern conditions, the green manure (sideral) system is preserved in some areas of the Non-Black Earth zone, where perennial lupine is used, but green manure is not the only way to maintain fertility in these conditions.

Grass-field system

The development of field grass growing and the emergence of a number of farming systems, with the sowing of perennial grasses it was decided to combine these systems into grass-field farming. V.G. Bazhaev (1900) thought that the term “grass-field farming” was close to the German one, by which in Germany they meant the system of field farming, in which the field was used for several years for annual crops, then for several more years for growing grasses. As noted by V.G. Bazhaev, these systems combine the swidden and pasture systems. Over time, grass-field farming expanded to include other systems with cultivation of fodder grasses, including the improved cereal system with grass sowing.

A.N. Shishkin (1894) also referred to grass-field farming as a system of field farming.

“Only with the introduction of grass sowing in the fields, simple cereal systems change into grass-field systems – improved grain, pasture and cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing)”.

A.N. Shishkin

L.I. Skvortsov (1890) subdivided the cereal farming system into fallow-cereal, grass-field and cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) farming systems. By grass-field he meant multi-field-grass, steppe swidden system.

Thus, at the end of XIX century, grass-field farming, or system, was understood as several systems differing by intensity and main features.

V.R. Williams developed grass-field farming system, combining improved grain and multi-field-grass crop rotations into one system with two crop rotations: field and meadow, which was effective in conditions of organization of large collective and state farms with significant areas of agricultural land. Organization of crop rotations with sowing of perennial grasses and annual plants in meadows increased productivity of natural forage lands several times and development of cattle breeding on this basis led to an increase of manure and yield of cereal crop rotations.

According to V.R. Williams, the grass-field system includes links:

  • a system of field and forage crop rotations;
  • system of main and pre-sowing tillage;
  • system of fertilizers in crop rotations;
  • system of field protective forest plantations;
  • construction of ponds and reservoirs in steppe and forest-steppe areas;
  • sowing with high-yielding varietal seeds.

The theoretical basis of grass-field farming system was the notion of natural process of soil formation under vegetation cover.

P.A. Kostychev and V.V. Dokuchaev in the 80s of XIX century, observing the results of plowing of wall black earth after leaving the plot to fallow, came to the conclusion that soil fertility is restored under the influence of natural, successively changing herbaceous vegetation. Steppe vegetation allowed the soil to accumulate humus and form a strong granular structure. According to P.A. Kostychev, structural soil could be formed only on virgin and fallow lands. Improvement of the structure should have helped to optimize the water regime of the soil.

Recognizing the disadvantage of the swidden system in the long duration of fertility and soil structure restoration, P.A. Kostychev and V.R. Williams established that the first phase of the sod process of soil formation – the phase of heavily vegetated swidden overgrowth, in which coarse structure is created, can be accelerated by tillage.

The second main phase – formation of fine lumbly structure under the influence of root systems of loose cereal grasses can be reduced by sowing these grasses in the fields.

About the third phase W.R. Williams wrote:

“The significance of the third phase comes down to giving the structural elements strength and to enriching the soil of swidden by elements of ash nutrition of plants and nitrogen, deep-rooted legumes. The same effect and to the same extent can be achieved in the crop by simultaneous and joint sowing of loose cereal grasses and perennial legumes. These are the three main provisions on which the grass-field farming system is based”.

W.R. Williams

In field grass-field crop rotations, two fields were allocated for sowing a mixture of perennial legumes and cereal grasses, and in forage crop rotations, most of the arable land was allocated for perennial grasses with a long period of use. Spring crops were placed after perennial grasses. It was not allowed to sow winter and row crops after perennial grasses, as it was assumed that the soil structure would be destroyed faster.

The organization of the territory envisaged the placement of forested areas in watersheds, field crop rotations on slopes and plateaus, and forage and vegetable crop rotations in valleys.

Grass-field farming system began to replace fallow farming system in collective and state farms. The positive features of grass-field farming system include:

  • cultural tillage with plows with skimmers,
  • introduction of multi-field field and forage crop rotations,
  • organization of the territory,
  • creation of field-protective forest plantations and water reservoirs in arid areas.

In some cases, the introduction of the grass-field system contributed to an increase in productivity and development of animal husbandry.

W.R. Williams contrasted perennial grasses to annual crops in terms of their effect on soil fertility. He considered perennial grasses consisting of legumes and cereals as crops that accumulate organic matter and improve soil structure. Although his predecessors P.A. Kostychev and A.A. Izmailsky had proved the ability of annual crops to improve soil structure, he was of the opinion that these crops worsened soil structure. V.R. Williams suggested using only grass-field crop rotations in all regions of the USSR, regardless of the yield of perennial grasses for hay. His theory argued that manure could not serve as a means of improving soil structure and excluded the use of a tooth harrow and roller in the tillage system for fear of destroying the structure.

W.R. Williams overestimated the role of strong structure and the importance of perennial grasses in recreating it. He considered the sowing of a mixture of perennial cereals and legumes to be mandatory, since legumes alone, in his opinion, could not solve this problem.

D.N. Pryanishnikov, N.M. Tulaykov, A.G. Doyarenko, S.P. Kulzhinsky, N.S. Sokolov criticized the erroneous positions of V.R. Williams. D.N. Pryanishnikov proved by his many-year experiments that a good soil structure can be recreated not only under grass mixtures, but also under pure sowings of alfalfa or clover. D.N. Pryanishnikov defined the conditions of grass-field crop rotations and cited crop rotations without perennial grasses.

Subsequent experiments also did not confirm the conclusions about firmly compacted structure as the main condition of fertility, about a mixture of loose grasses and leguminous grasses as the only means to improve soil structure. Research and farming practice have also not confirmed the statement about the inadmissibility of sowing winter and row crops after perennial grasses.

For example, in the Northern Caucasus, in the Non-Black Earth and Central Black Earth zones, and in some other areas, winter wheat and rye give much higher yields after perennial grasses than spring wheat.

Along with crop rotations, tillage is of great importance in the grass-field system. The system of autumn tillage, including harvest discing and plowing, is widespread. The quality of tillage has increased due to the use of the plough with a skimmer and the deepening of the arable layer, especially on soddy-podzolic soils.

Concerns about soil structure degradation under the influence of disc tools, tooth harrows and rollers, which were recommended to be used only for maintenance of crops, were also unfounded.

A fertilizer system, which included a combination of organic and mineral fertilizers, received some development. However, the erroneous opinion of W.R. Williams was about the uselessness of using mineral fertilizers on unstructured soils and the use of manure in the form of raw humus. Despite criticism of grass-field system by some scientists, it was promoted in 30-40s and universally recommended as the only correct and progressive. However, later it was abandoned everywhere.

At present, the grass-field farming system is understood as a system in which more than half of the arable area is occupied by perennial grasses and soil fertility is reproduced by growing perennial grasses and fertilizing.

Grass-field farming system with a reasonable combination of individual sections of crop rotation may be used under local conditions in the zone of sufficient moisture, in particular, in some areas of the Non-Black Earth and forest-steppe zones, in which high yields of perennial grasses are obtained.

Field grass sowing should not be equated with the grass-field farming system. It is an integral part of different systems, such as multi-field-grass, cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing), improved grain, which differ sharply in intensity.

Intensive farming systems

Intensive farming systems are systems that ensure the reproduction of soil fertility and increase yields through extensive use of intensification factors. They include systems:

  • cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing),
  • row crop,
  • cereal-fallow.

Intensive farming systems emerged as a result of the rapid development of capitalism, urbanization, and increased demand for agricultural products, especially livestock products. The cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) system with a better structure of sown areas and rational use of land, came to replace the cereal-fallow and cereal-fallow-row systems.

However, intensive farming system may not always be rational. Experience of global farming has shown that high land availability and difficult climatic conditions allow grain farming at minimum labor and inputs, which is more profitable than the intensive approach, while in densely populated areas and in a favorable climate it is more efficient to develop more labor-intensive industries and apply more intensive farming systems.

Reproduction of fertility in intensive farming systems is achieved by enhanced nutrient cycling:

  • the application of organic and mineral fertilizers,
  • qualitative tillage,
  • regulation of microbiological processes,
  • use of chemical and other means of controlling weeds, diseases and pests
  • of crops,
  • reclamation activities,
  • high level of mechanization.

Therefore, it can be effective only if there is a high level of farming culture. 

In Russia, due to weak technical and material equipment of agriculture, the row crop system was less widespread than the cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) system. Depending on the prevailing market demand at one time or another, it often changed into the so-called free land use system.

Nowadays, the row crop system is common in areas of intensive row crop cultivation, for example in the Kuban, Ukraine, Moldova, and Central Asian countries. In areas with a high risk of erosion and in farms technically insufficiently equipped, it has little prospect.

Intensive technology of crop cultivation includes a set of agronomic and organizational measures aimed at obtaining high yields with a minimum share of manual labor. The technology provides for increase of soil fertility, maintenance of crop rotations, introduction of high-yield varieties and hybrids, adapted to mechanized cultivation, application of optimal, scientifically validated norms of mineral fertilizers, use of plant protection chemicals, introduction of modern machinery, optimization of organization and labor. An obligatory requirement of intensive technology of cultivation of any crop is the observance of all agronomic practices in optimal terms with high quality and taking into account the biological requirements of crops.

Cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) system

Cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) system farming system is a system in which the key importance is the alternation of soil-depleting crops, such as cereals, with enriching ones, such as leguminous or perennial grasses, in the crop rotation.

Distinctive features of the cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) system are:

  • plowing natural forage lands and turning them into arable land, except for some
  • of the highly productive meadows;
  • cultivation of forage, the most productive crops;
  • abandoning bare fallows and replacing them with leguminous grasses;
  • alternation of crops that deplete and enrich the soil – fruit changing.

In the countries of Western Europe, the abandonment of old-fallow and fallow-cereal farming systems occurred at a faster pace than in Russia. Therefore, the fruit-changing system in Europe was more widespread and much earlier.

This system began in Flemish and Flanders – part of the lands of today’s Belgium and Holland – in the 16th-17th centuries. It quickly became dominant in England, then in France (18th century) and Germany (19th century).

Plants can be divided into three groups according to their need for nutrients:

  • crops that deplete the soil, primarily cereals, which consume significant amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus;
  • crops that are able to assimilate air nitrogen and enrich the soil with it, including legumes and leguminous plants;
  • root crops and tubers, which consume a lot of potassium and less phosphorus and nitrogen.

In the fruit-changing system winter crops were placed after legumes and leguminous crops, and row crops after winter crops. Row crops were followed by spring cereals. Repeated sowing of cereals was not allowed. Rotation of crops involved an annual change in the fields. In order to maintain and increase fertility in the structure of sown areas, half of the arable land was allocated for cereals and the other half for legumes and row crops. Bare fallow was replaced by busy clover seeded fallow.

The transition to the fruit-changing system meant that the purely grain farm gave way to the farm with developed livestock breeding and cultivation of technical and row crops. The development of livestock farming led to the expansion of leguminous grasses and fodder crops.

In England, the Norfolk rotation was formed, which is a classic example of fruit changing: 1 – winter wheat, 2 – fodder root crops, 3 – barley with undersowing of clover, 4 – clover. This crop rotation has the typical proportion of crops: cereals – 50%, row crops – 25% and legumes – 25%.

Climatic conditions of Western Europe contributed to the rejection of bare fallow: a sufficient amount of precipitation and a long vegetation period, allowing a good preparation of the soil for sowing winter crops after harvesting clover, which replaced the fallow field. The introduction of fruit-change crop rotations was sometimes facilitated by failures as well. For example, in France, on permanent plots of sugar beet, root infestation by nematodes constantly increased, for this reason, the beet began to be introduced into crop rotation as a row crop.

A.V. Sovetov, trying to optimize the fruit-changing to the conditions of Russia, noted that the fruit-change system has a great flexibility. Most often, one field of a fruit-change crop rotation is occupied by clover or other leguminous grasses, but there are crop rotations that use annual legumes for green fodder, hay, or for grain instead of perennial grasses.

The inclusion of row crops in the crop rotation required deep tillage, in particular deep plowing and plowing with deepening plows, as well as the application of organic fertilizers, primarily manure, the effect of which extends to subsequent crops.

Transition from the fallow-cereal three-field system to the cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) system including intensive use of fertilizers and deep tillage contributed to the growth of average wheat yield in Western Europe from 0.7-0.8 t/ha (18th century) to 1.6-1.7 t/ha (1840-1880) and to 2.5-3.0 t/ha (1900-1930) when mineral fertilizers were applied. In recent decades, a modern fruit-change farming system allows to obtain more than 4.0 t/ha.

As far back as in XVIII-XIX centuries, Russian scientists such as A.T. Bolotov, I.M. Komov, M.G. Pavlov, P.A. Kostychev, I.A. Stebut, A.N. Engelhardt and others, who made many suggestions on improvement of this system and its adaptation to the conditions of Russia, were the supporters of the fruit-change system.

Before the Revolution (1917), the fruit-changing system of farming was successfully used only on individual landowners’ farms, mainly on beet-growing farms. It was inconvenient for the conditions of one-sided grain or grain-livestock farming. Peasant farms were not economically ready for the transition to the fruit-changing system. At the beginning of the 20th century, D.N. Pryanishnikov and S.P. Kulzhinsky were supporters of the crop rotation system, who attached special importance to correct crop rotation and introduction of leguminous crops into the crop rotation.

The transition from a cereal-fallow system to a fruit-changing system was a progressive step in the development of agriculture. According to modern concepts, fruit-changing crop rotation successfully solves the issues of increasing soil fertility through the use of fertilizers, legume crops, deep tillage and weed control.

In modern Russian farming, the fruit-changing system, along with other intensive farming systems, is widespread in the Central Black Earth zone and the North Caucasus. However, the requirements imposed on agriculture of the present time do not allow to call it optimal.

Industrial-plant (row crop) system

The development of commercial agriculture in Russia in the mid-19th century, led to the emergence of a row crop, industrial-plant, or vegetable farming system, primarily in areas specializing in the production of sugar beets, sunflowers, potatoes, and vegetables. The cultivation of these crops determined the relationship of agriculture to the processing industry. For this reason, A.V. Sovetov, A.S. Ermolov, and other scientists called this system industrial.

The industrial-plant system was based on the intensification of labor, sufficient use of fertilizers, and was almost independent of soil and climatic conditions. A.V. Sovetov noted that in Russia in the second half of the XIX century in some areas the fallow system has long been forgotten and replaced by new ones. For example, to such areas he referred Yaroslavl province, where Rostov vegetable gardening, cultivated potatoes for starch and distillery industry, grew sunflowers and sugar beets. In 1890 A.I. Skvortsov noted, in the farms technical fruit-changing system has a pronounced character:

“… Here not only two cereals are not allowed to be cultivated consecutively, but more often, on the contrary, two root crops, even of the same species, are allowed to be cultivated”.

A.I. Skvortsov

However, in pre-revolutionary Russia this system was even less widespread than the fruit-changing system.

In the industrial-plant system arable land was mainly used for sowing valuable cereals, leguminous plants, technical and highly productive forage crops. The remaining area of meadows is transformed into highly productive hayfields and pastures. The structure of sown area is determined based on the specialization of the farm and natural-economic conditions.

Bare fallows are introduced periodically, perennial, especially legumes, grasses in the main crop rotations occupy a small proportion of arable land or are absent at all. On soils subject to erosion, the share of grasses increases.

Modern farming systems

Primitive farming systems are a thing of the past. The multi-field-grass system was not widespread before. Unlike the pre-revolutionary system, the modern cereal-fallow system uses good machinery, efficient tillage methods, fertilizers, reclamation and anti-erosion measures, and varietal crops. It is widespread in arid areas where cultivation of row crops and legumes is limited.

In the areas of sugar beet, sunflower, corn and other crops of wide-row method of sowing, where the grain farming system with cultivated crops was developed, tillage was improved, use of fertilizers increased and cropping culture was improved. This type of improved grain system is widely used nowadays in arid areas of the North Caucasus and Central Black Earth zone, in the Middle and Lower Volga region, partly in Western Siberia.

The development of improved grain system has reached such a degree that it has divided into two independent forms: with grass sowing – cereal-grass, with row crops – cereal-fallow-row.

Intensive farming systems were widespread. In the industrial areas of the Non-Black Earth Zone, in the forest-steppe zone and on irrigated lands, the fruit-changing system is used. Cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) crop rotations occupy about 50% of arable land; the remaining part is occupied by legumes and row crops. The share of legumes may reach 25%, and of row crops – from 25% to 50%. Bare fallows are not used. Intermediate crops are actively used. Perennial grasses are usually used for one year, after which winter cereals are sown. Less often, legume grasses are replaced by leguminous or row crops.

The industrial-plant system is used in enterprises specializing in cultivation of technical and forage row crops, vegetables or potatoes. In this system, most of the arable land is occupied by row crops, and their repeated sowing is allowed. Bare fallows are not used, but intermediate crops are introduced instead. High-quality tillage, sufficient fertilizers, irrigation in arid areas and drainage in excessively humid areas, and erosion control are of great importance.

Cereal-row crop rotations are widespread, in which a smaller share of the arable land is allocated for row crops and a larger share for cereals. Cultivation of row crops with perennial grasses became the basis of grass-row crop rotations.

According to the classification of S.A. Vorobyov, V.I. Rumyantsev, and V.P. Narcissov, the following farming systems are used in Russia: cereal-fallow, cereal-row, cereal-fallow-row, cereal-grass, cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing), and row (industrial-plant). However, it should be taken into account that in different natural-economic zones of the country, these systems can be significantly modified.

Classification of existing farming systems, the development of the basic principles of these classifications is one of the tasks of agricultural science. According to V.I. Kiryushin (1996), the main criteria for modern classification of farming systems can be: totality of natural factors, main directions of crop production taking into account market demand, totality of production intensification factors, production methods and forms of land use, ecological restrictions.

The modern agricultural production is characterized by features:

  • investment in the industry of significant capital funds,
  • mechanization,
  • chemization,
  • amelioration,
  • use of highly productive varieties and hybrids,
  • improvement of forms of organization of production and labor remuneration.

The investment of significant capital investments in the industry is associated with the development of all related areas: machinery, digitalization, agrochemicals, technology, etc. What in general, should seek to improve the profitability of agricultural production.

“In fact, the very notion: “additional (or: successive) investments of labor and capital” implies a change in modes of production, a transformation of technology. To increase the amount of capital invested in the land to a considerable extent, it is necessary to invent new machines, new systems of farming, new ways of keeping cattle, transporting the product, etc., etc.”

V.I. Lenin

Soil-protective zonal farming systems, which include the principles of individual intensive farming systems adapted to specific natural and economic conditions, are being introduced at present. All links of such systems fully take into account and implement local soil-climatic, material-technical and labor resources.

Zonal farming systems

A large number of zones in Russia with different soil and climatic and economic conditions determines the diversity of applied forms of farming systems, taking into account the achievements of agronomic science.

Zonal farming systems must:

  • be soil-protective,
  • be based on scientific advances, technology and best practices,
  • be based on intensive technologies,
  • represent the agricultural complex,
  • provide a sustainable farming,
  • to create the maximum amount of high-quality crop production at minimum
  • labor and cost.

Reproduction of fertility is the most important indicator of zonal farming systems, based on normative-technological basis using calculation and balance methods of fertility and yields programming.

High and sustainable yields of cereals up to 4-5 t/ha, silage up to 40-60 t/ha and other crops are obtained by enterprises with the most fully developed farming system. Farming cannot be developed according to any one universal scheme. Each farm should annually improve the system of farming taking into account new challenges and opportunities in the directions of intensification, ecological, economic, soil-protection, and social efficiency.

Efficiency of farming system is evaluated by individual agrotechnical, reclamation, organizational and other measures included in its composition, of which the efficiency of the system as a whole is determined.

The main indicators of economic efficiency of the farming system:

  • level of productivity (amount of production in conventional units per 1 hectare of arable land),
  • cost level,
  • profitability of production,
  • labor productivity.

Alternative farming systems

Modern intensive farming systems, involving the active use of means of chemicalization and mechanization in the cultivation of crops, were called traditional. In the middle of XX century in the development of intensive systems came a new period, characterized by complete or partial rejection of the use of mineral fertilizers and chemical means of plant protection and increasing the importance of biological sources of plant nutrition, biological and mechanical methods of protection. These systems became known as alternative systems.

The main reason of this direction development is connected with sharp negative influence of intensive farming systems on soil, environment and products quality because of wide use of mineral fertilizers and chemical means of plants protection. In addition, the emergence of this direction was promoted by the limited non-renewable resources used in agriculture in increasing quantities, the volatility of markets for products and rising prices for machinery, fertilizers, pesticides and fuel.

Alternative farming systems have different names in different countries, but are not significantly different. In the United States and Canada, for example, an organic farming system is used, in which the production, processing and storage of crops occurs without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and growth regulators. Only materials consisting of substances of animal, plant and mineral origin are allowed to be used. Great importance is given to crop rotation, green crops, especially legumes, the use of crop residues and organic waste of non-agricultural origin. Depending on the conditions, tillage is reduced to a minimum and focuses on soil protection against erosion, and non-moldboard chisel and disk implements prevail.

In France, a biological farming system is used, which does not allow the use of chemical fertilizers, especially readily soluble ones. It is based on the use of organic fertilizers, which are often precomposted; techniques that increase the biological activity of the soil, neutralizing excessive acidity. Much attention is paid to reasonable crop rotation with a gentle saturation of some crops and the use of green crops.

Preventive measures, mechanical, biological and fire methods are used to control pests, pathogens and weeds.

Sweden, Switzerland and some other countries use organic-biological farming system based on creation of “living and healthy soil” by maintaining and activating the activity of soil microflora. Fields are vegetated as long as possible, crop residues are incorporated into the topsoil, crop rotation is saturated with legumes and legume-cereal crops, and only organic and some slow-soluble mineral fertilizers are used. Plant protection is similar to the biological farming system.

In Germany, Sweden, Denmark the biodynamic system is widespread. The basis of this system along with the principles common to all alternative systems, there are some differences: farming is conducted taking into account not only terrestrial (natural), but also cosmic rhythms; they use the influence of space forces on agricultural production, use special biodynamic preparations, such as “humus”, “silica”, “compost”, extracts, decoctions and products of plant fermentation.

All agronomic practices are recommended to be carried out in favorable periods, coordinated with the phases of the moon and the zodiacal cycle.

In a number of countries the ecological system is applied. It is based on limitation of pesticides application and flexible use of mineral fertilizers. It is allowed to use water-soluble forms, taking into account the mechanical composition of the soil.

All alternative farming systems are characterized by a common principle – reduction or complete rejection of mineral fertilizers and pesticides, transition to nutrients of plant origin, obtaining environmentally safe products of crop production.

The first studies of alternative farming systems in the world revealed their advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of these systems include high environmental friendliness, reduction of energy consumption and costs of exhaustible resources, improvement of product quality. The main disadvantage is the reduction of crop yields.

The use of alternative systems does not imply a return to low-yield farming systems, but the search for and improvement of technologies based on scientific knowledge, the laws of nature, and their optimal use.

Biologization, i.e. intensification of biological factors to reduce negative impact of anthropogenic factor of agriculture and at increase of its efficiency for maximum realization of potential productivity of crops and reproduction of soil fertility in accordance with ecological principles of nature management. It is the most important task of developing alternative farming systems.

The main factors of biological farming:

  • knowledge and rational use of the laws of nature;
  • reproduction of soil fertility, improvement of agronomic and biological properties, mainly by means of crop rotation;
  • use of highly productive varieties and hybrids adapted to specific soil-climatic conditions;
  • mastering of scientifically based crop rotations;
  • maximum efficient use of biological nitrogen in agrocenoses;
  • application of all types of organic fertilizers, increasing the share of sideration, limited use of mineral fertilizers, taking into account the optimization of plant nutrition;
  • ecological system of plant protection, application of biological methods and means;
  • differentiated system of tillage, taking into account the requirements of crops and soil-climatic conditions.

Alternative farming systems are built by solving a complex problem of environmental and economic conditions.


Farming. Textbook for universities / G.I. Bazdyrev, V.G. Loshakov, A.I. Puponin et al. – Moscow: Publishing House “Kolos”, 2000. – 551 с.

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Farming and crop production. Edited by V.S. Niklyaev. – Moscow: Bylina, 2000. – 555 с.

Development of the teaching of farming systems in Russia

Farming systems are the result of a long historical development of peoples, originating in the depths of centuries and reflecting the development of culture in certain socio-economic conditions.

“There is no doubt that this or that farming system expresses this or that degree of civil development of peoples.

A.V. Sovetov.

In the farming systems manifest different ways of land use, inherent in a particular historical stage of socio-economic development of the people and society.

“…the culture of the field has always gone hand in hand with the culture of man.”

K.A. Timiryazev

The origins of the teaching of farming systems in Russia

The teaching of farming systems in Russia emerged in the second half of the 18th century, a period characterized by the social division of labor, rapid development of crafts, manufactures, and trade. Along with the justification of the concept of “farming system” as a set of agrotechnical methods aimed at preservation and improvement of soil fertility, the issues and problems were studied and discussed:

  • on the economic efficiency of farming systems under various natural and economic conditions;
  • farming systems and soil-climatic conditions,
  • farming systems and production directions of farms,
  • farming systems and agricultural implements and machinery,
  • farming systems and the social mode of production.

The founders of the teaching of farming systems in Russia were such agronomists of the last third of the 18th century as A.T. Bolotov, I.M. Komov, V.A. Levshin and agricultural practices of the early 19th century – D.M. Poltoratsky, I.I. Samarin.

Under the conditions of the feudal reform of land ownership, serfdom and communal land tenure the fallow arable farming system was prevalent with the then usual three-field cereal crop rotation: 1 – fallow, 2 – winter cereals, 3 – spring cereals. For the vast majority of peasant and landowner farms the fallow system was the only form of farming. The slash-and-burn system of farming was also used in the northern forested provinces, and the old-fallow system in the southern and southeastern regions. In both cases the systems had a grain orientation. Thus, in the fields of Russia at that time undividedly dominated cereal crops.

Vegetable and industrial crops were cultivated only in vegetable gardens or on special plots primarily for consumer purposes. Productive cattle breeding developed in the south and southeast of the European part, but it was based not on agriculture, but on natural meadows and pastures.

Founders of farming systems in Russia

A.T. Bolotov

Numerous works of A.T. Bolotov (1738-1833) are directly related to the teaching of farming systems: “Notes on Grain Farming in General”, “On Fertilizing Lands”, “On Separation of Fields” and others.

A.T. Bolotov was of the opinion that agriculture in both Black Earth and Non-Black Earth zones could be raised by improving the existing fallow system of farming and mastering the new, more perfect at that time, pasture system.

In the first case it was proposed to improve pre-sowing tillage, methods of field fertilization, increase the quality of seeds and their embedding into the soil, improve the existing meadows. In the second case, to radically change agricultural production: to introduce new crop rotations and establish rational proportions between grain farming and cattle breeding.

A.T. Bolotov proposed to switch, where conditions allow, from three-field system to seven-field crop rotations of the pasture system:

  • 1 – winter cereals (wheat and rye), 2 – pasture, 3 – spring crops, 4 – pasture, 5 – spring crops, 6 – pasture, 7 – fallow;
  • 1 – winter cereals, 2,3 – spring crops, 4-6 – pasture, 7 – fallow.

In contrast to the three-field crop rotation of the fallow system, in which 2/3 of the arable land is occupied by cereals and 1/3 by fallow, in the seven-field rotation of the grazing system 3/7 of the arable land is occupied by cereals, 3/7 – by grazing and 1/7 – by fallow. Thus, sown area under cereals decreased from 67 to 43% of all arable land. However, A.T. Bolotov argued that the crops would yield more than before, since the amount of fodder, livestock and manure would increase immeasurably, and the land would be better manured and cultivated.

In order to economically evaluate the proposed system of farming and prove its advantage over the fallow system, he applied a comparative analysis method, which he called “balances.” This is done by comparing two plots of land of the same size and quality, but on which different farming systems are used. For example, on the first plot a three-field crop rotation of the fallow system is applied, and on the second – a seven-field profit system. This approach made it possible for the first time to determine production costs and net income.

I.M. Komov

I.M. Komov (1750-1792), agronomist and economist, considered the most important tasks of farming to be the restoration and maintenance of soil fertility, which could be solved by plowing, fertilizing with manure and cereal-grass-row crop rotation.

In 1785 I.M. Komov published his work “On Farming Implements,” which was republished six years later, and in 1788 his monograph “On Farming” was published.

He divided all plants into two groups: soil-depleting, such as cereals and oil crops, and enriching, such as root crops and grasses. From these positions, he expressed sharp criticism of the fallow system used, noting the impossibility under such a system to develop animal husbandry and sufficiently fertilize the land, which inevitably led to the depletion of natural fertility, falling yields and farm incomes. I.M. Komov proposed to establish a turnover of sowing different plants so as not to exhaust the land and get as much profit from it as possible. This can be achieved by sowing a vegetable, a cereal, and a grass one by one.

I.M. Komov, in contrast to A.T. Bolotov, proposed to move to a more intensive cereal-grass-row system of farming.

“It is better to get much from a little than little from a big.”

I.M. Komov

The rationale for the new system was based on the relationship between grain and cattle farming, cereals and forage crops, paying attention not only to the economic but also to the agro-technical side of the farming system.

I.M. Komov proposed two variants of approximate six-field crop rotations:

  1. For areas where the land is poor or there is a lot of it and few farmers: 1 – spring cereals with grasses, 2 – grasses, 3 – winter cereals, 4 – row crops, 5 – spring cereals with grasses, 6 – grasses.
  2. For areas with few land and many people: 1 – winter cereals, 2 – spring cereals, 3 – row crops, 4 – spring cereals with grasses, 5 – grasses, 6 – spring cereals.

Emphasizing that the proposed crop rotations are only approximate, he pointed out that there are no general and constant rules for all time “in such a diverse and multivariable art” as farming. I.M. Komov advised first to make experiments on small plots of land in order to understand “which grain or vegetable for his land is more suitable, which manure is more useful and at what depth the seeds are sown more reliably”. And only then “begin to sow whole fields.”

A.T. Bolotov and I.M. Komov were guided by the desire to transform Russian agriculture, to make it highly profitable. The way to solve this problem they saw in the introduction of new farming systems, which would not deplete the land, but, on the contrary, increase its fertility. The systems, in their opinion, could be those combining farming with cattle breeding, cereals with forage crops. They considered the observance of the proportions between farming and cattle breeding as the key condition for restoring, maintaining and improving soil fertility, increasing agricultural productivity and profitability of farms. Agronomic and economic efficiency were considered by A.T. Bolotov and I.M. Komov as one whole.

V.A. Levshin, D.M. Poltoratsky, I.I. Samarin

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the increase in crop yields was hampered by the development of cattle breeding, which was the only source of fertilizer at that time, and the development of cattle breeding, in turn, by the lack of fodder. Therefore, Russian agricultural scientists of the time were looking for rational ways to cultivate a variety of forage grasses in the fields of different zones of the country and made numerous experiments.

A great contribution to the solution of this question was made by V.A. Levshin, a member of the Free Economic Society, and D.M. Poltoratsky and I.I. Samarin, agricultural practitioners.

V.A. Levshin paid attention to the study of wild grasses, experimental grass seeding and improvement of the fallow farming system. Among his numerous works devoted to these issues, the following played a great role in the development of domestic agronomy and agricultural practice: “Description of fodder grasses discovered in the Tula province, the convenience of their reproduction by sowing, conversion of some of them for economic use”, “On the Settlement of Steppes”, “On Plants Harmful and Useful to Cattles”.

These works allow to call V.A. Levshin a founder of the theory of grass sowing in Russia and the creator of improved fallow system of farming, which in agricultural literature of the 19th century entered under the name “improved cereal system” and was widely used in the peasant farms of Moscow and Yaroslavl provinces.

V.A. Levshin proposed for the south of Russia crop rotation: 1 – winter crops, 2 – spring crops, 3 – first-year grasses, 4 – second-year grasses.

He understood that the dominant fallow system with cereal three-field farming caused the lack of meadows and pastures, livestock and manure, unable to ensure the restoration and maintenance of soil fertility.

D.M. Poltoratsky, an educated landowner, at about the same time began grass farming on a wide scale for the time. On his Avchurino estate he applied a new system of farming. All the land of the estate, which amounted to 2,700 dessiatinas (2900 ha), was divided into two plots – near and far. The nearer one was allotted for crop rotation: 1 – potatoes, peas, carrots, beans, lentils; 2 – spring wheat, oats, barley; 3 – clover for green fodder and hay; 4 – winter wheat and rye. At the far site seven-field crop rotation was applied: 1-3 – oats, 4 – 1st year clover, 5 – 2nd year clover, 6 – winter crops, 7 – oats. Then the land was allocated for pasture or haying.

Transition to a new cereal-grass-row system of farming allowed to increase the yield of crops, increase the number of livestock on the farm. However, the cereal-grass-row crop rotation, introduced by Poltoratsky, was not widespread in Russia.

Crop rotation of V.A. Levshin, which underwent great changes, eventually became widespread in the farms of the central provinces of the Non-Chernozem zone.

A.D. Thayer, M.G. Pavlov

I.M. Komov’s classic work “On Farming” was published in 21 years, and A.T. Bolotov’s outstanding work “On the Division of Fields” in 37 years, before the first volume of A.D. Thayer’s “Foundations of Rational Agriculture” (1809), who is considered the founder of agricultural science and, particularly, the teaching of farming systems, was published.

A.D. Thayer (1752-1828) founded and directed the Meglina Agricultural Academy, the oldest in Germany. His work “The Foundations of Rational Agriculture” in four volumes represented the most extensive systematized course of lectures on all the main branches of agricultural knowledge.

All existing at that time farming systems were subdivided by A.D. Thayer into fallow-cereal and cereal-grass-row systems. He also referred the pasture system to the fruit-and-vegetable system, which he called “cereal-grass-row farming with pasture”. A.D.Thayer developed, as he considered, the most effective for Germany four-field crop rotation: 1 – potato, 2 – barley, 3 – clover, 4 – winter rye.

In Russia, the teaching of farming systems was developed in the works of M.G. Pavlov: “Farming Chemistry”, “Course of Agriculture” and others. M.G. Pavlov (1793-1848) after graduating from Moscow University in 1816 went on a long trip abroad, where he studied agriculture in Western European countries. For a year he studied under A.D. Thayer in Meglina and for three years he toured the agricultural areas of Germany, Switzerland, France and England.

M.G. Pavlov viewed agricultural production from three perspectives: as a craft, as an art, and as a science.

“The fate of agriculture as a craft is stillness, as a art – blind luck or a series of economic errors, as a science – calculated success.”

M.G. Pavlov

Beginning in 1826, M.G. Pavlov compared different systems of farming in the educational experimental farm of the Moscow School of Agriculture. He concluded that no matter how obvious the advantages of one or another system might seem, its widespread introduction is impossible. None of the existing systems of farming everywhere and always the best and dominant can be, as everything depends on local natural and economic conditions: the soil and climate, the prices for land, for labor, for various agricultural products and farm implements, the cost of transportation, etc. According to M.G. Pavlov, the best farming system is the one, which under given conditions, under given circumstances provides the highest income from a certain space of land without depleting its fertility.

M.G. Pavlov subdivided the systems of farming into three classes: field, or fallow, pasture, and cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing).

Evaluating these systems by their influence on fertility, M.G. Pavlov noted that three-field system depletes fertility. It returns less nutrients to the land than it extracts from it. Pasture system ensures the maintenance of fertility. Cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) system not only maintains, but also increases it. Old-fallow system of farming he attributes to the pasture system.

In the agriculture of Russia at that time the main income came from the cultivation of cereals, and then livestock farming. Cultivation of industrial crops and processing of agricultural products were very poorly developed.

M.G. Pavlov believed that the goal of any farming system was to gain maximum profit, while the agrotechnical aspects of the system, primarily related to the restoration, maintenance and improvement of soil fertility, were relegated to the background.

J.A. Litovsky, S.M. Usov

Professor Y.A. Litovsky (1818-1846) of Moscow University, the successor of M.G. Pavlov in the Department of Agriculture, approached the study of farming systems from the natural-scientific side, taking into account the conditions of soil fertility.

In the understanding of J.A. Litovsky, a farming system is the achievement of the highest profit primarily through the selection of the optimal ratio of crops in a field crop rotation and measures for the restoration and maintenance of fertility.

S.M. Usov (1796-1859) in his work “On Grain Farming Systems” summarized the teaching on farming systems in the pre-reform period. He was the editor of “Zemledelskaya Gazeta” and “The Works of the Free Economic Society”.

All agronomists-economists of the pre-reform period, who contributed to the development of the theory of farming systems in Russia, considered the farming system from the perspective of cultivation of cultivated plants on the fields for profit, that is, they expanded the concept of “farming system”, including not only agrotechnical aspects, but also economic ones.

A.V. Sovetov, A.N. Engelhardt

The teaching of farming systems was developed in the works of A.V. Sovetov and A.N. Engelhardt.

A.V. Sovetov considered farming systems as an issue combining agronomic and economic aspects.

“The question of farming systems is not a strictly agronomical question, it goes into the field of political economy.”

A.V. Sovetov

The main role in any system of farming A.V. Sovetov attributed to land relations, however, over time, this position has changed, along with this changed the systems of farming.

The term “farming system” was first introduced by professor A.V. Sovetov.

“The different forms in which one or another method of farming is expressed are commonly called systems of farming.”

A.V. Sovetov

A.V. Sovetov emphasized that the main form of farming among the Slavic peoples of ancient Russia was the slash-and-burn system, in which to turn the land into a condition suitable for arable farming, resorted to cutting and burning wood, shrubs or turf. The slash-and-burn system of farming prevails in forested areas.

In the southern steppe regions of Russia, the old-fallow system of farming was widespread, in which a plot of land was sown with cereal crops for several years in a row, and after the soil was exhausted, it was turned into a fallow land used as pasture or hayfield. After the depleted land naturally regains its fertility, it is put back into use. In such a system, cultivated land is not fertilized, not grassed, and not rotated.

In the 60’s of XIX century the old-fallow system was widespread in the southern steppe regions of Russia, slash-and-burn – in the north. In the rest of the European part of the country the three-field fallow-cereal system prevailed, which emerged, according to A.V. Sovetov, as a result of plowing the steppe fallow lands and growth of sown areas of cereal crops.

The fallow system, according to A.V. Sovetov, can be applied when the area of meadows is 2 times more than the arable land. Increasing the share of arable land in this system inevitably leads to a reduction of livestock, fertilizer and lower yields.

In addition, the fallow system is exclusively cereal-oriented and incompatible with crops such as clover, beets, sunflowers and others that require other tillage practices, which meant that the farming system had to be improved.

Beet farming in Russia initiated the introduction and mastering of a more intensive crop rotation system, the emergence of new crop rotations and field grassing, the use of more advanced farming implements and the use of fertilizers and more thorough tillage.

A.V. Sovetov considered the cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) farming system as the most productive and progressive in comparison with fallow, while the latter was more productive than the swidden one.

He is credited with summarizing more than half a century of experience in the use of crop rotation system in different countries and describing the evolution of this system. He showed how the forms of fruit-changing crop rotation depending on soil-climatic and socio-economic conditions.

A.V. Sovetov in his work “On cultivation of fodder grasses in the fields” has reviewed in detail the experience of using the cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) system, and especially grass sowing, in Russia.

Field grass sowing in Russia for the first time appeared in the late 18th century, and by the 30s of the 19th century it was already quite widespread. The spread of field grass sowing led to the improvement of crop rotation, which first was four-field, and then five-, six-, seven-field, etc., taking into account local soil and climatic and economic conditions. The range of grasses used also expanded. In addition to red clover, which initially dominated in the crops, timothy, white clover, awnless brome, etc. began to be sown.

However, A.V. Sovetov did not consider the fruit-changing system an absolute truth, and believed that agronomic science and practice needed to move on.

A.N. Engelhardt (1832-1893) in his works “From the Village”, “On Agriculture in Northern Russia and the Application of Phosphorites in It”, and “Chemical Bases of Farming” did not use the term “system of farming”, but used “system of field farming”, “system of economy”. By “system of field farming” he meant a system of farming, whereas by “system of farming” he meant a system that included the production direction of the farm, the system of farming, farming implements, and the social type of farm.

At the Batischevo estate A.N. Engelhardt introduced a 15-field crop rotation, a complete rotation of which took place from 1871 to 1887.

Changes in the system of field farming resulted in changes in the system of cattle breeding. The plowing of heathlands and grassy layer required the improvement of farming tools: replacing the sokha (lightweight horse-drawn wooden soil cultivation implement) and wooden harrows with a plough and iron harrows. 

Engelhardt distinguished between extensive and intensive farming systems.

He considered the main directions of the farming system to be the destruction of wastelands and bringing all the convenient land to a cultivated condition, fertilizing the land with manure, grass sowing and application of artificial fertilizers, flax and dairy-livestock farming directions, improvement of tillage implements.

A.N. Engelhardt proved the interrelation of farming system and production direction. In fallow systems, the direction of farming can only be grain farming, and in pasture systems – dairy-livestock and flax farming.

A.P. Ludogovsky

The teaching of systems of agriculture was laid down by professor A.P. Ludogovsky (1840-1882) of the Petrovsky Academy of Agriculture and Forestry. He did not separate the meanings of the terms “system of mastery” and “system of farming”.

For the first time in agricultural science, A.P. Ludogovsky tried to single out from the farming system its component part – the system of field farming, defining crop rotation as the key concept.

He classified farming systems according to the main features which, in his opinion, express the essence of farming system, its agronomic and economic content. Such attributes include:

  • degree of intensity,
  • the method of restoration of soil fertility,
  • the position of productive livestock farming in the farm,
  • distribution of all the land of the farm between forage and cereal crops.

The method of soil fertility restoration determines the nature of land use and the farming system as a whole. As noted by A.P. Ludogovsky, the history of farming knows four ways to restore fertility: fallow land, fallow field tillage, field grass sowing and fertilization with manure and artificial mixtures.

The development of farming systems, in his opinion, was the result of a natural-historical process, by which he understood “depletion of soil by crops,” and an economic process, to which he assigned a more important role.

A.P. Ludogovsky developed his scheme of historical and geographical development of farming systems, which was based on the data from England and Germany. The scheme reflected technical progress in agriculture. Each successive farming system was technically more advanced in relation to the previous one.

I.A. Stebut

I.A. Stebut was the first in agricultural science to define the concepts of “system of farm (mastery)”, “system of field management”, “crop rotation” and “system of crops” and showed the relationship between them.

“System of farm” – a certain combination of branches involved in the formation of the income of a specialized farm. The main feature of the farm system, according to I.A. Stebut, is the production direction, or market product. Thus, three main farm systems were distinguished:

field-growing, in which the market product was grain;
cattle-breeding, in which the market product was livestock products;
factory, in which the market product was the products of farming, subjected to technical processing.

In the European part of Russia, field farming systems prevailed, and field farming itself, according to I.A. Stebut, is an integral part of all major farming systems, such as cattle breeding, distillery, sugar production, butter production, and starch-and-maltodextrin production.

I.A. Stebut considered the system of field farming as part of the system of farming, which is expressed in crop rotation.

“Only that crop rotation which serves as an expression of the plan of field farming correctly outlined for local conditions as part of that building which represents the whole farm.”

I.A. Stebut

A.S. Ermolov

A.S. Ermolov (1846-1916), the author of “The Organization of Field Farming,” considered maximum profit as the goal of rational farming at all times and with all peoples. The economic and natural conditions of agriculture may change, but the goal of farming remains the same; it is always and everywhere the same – the highest net income. To achieve this goal, A.S. Ermolov believed that following the change of economic and natural conditions the system of farming should be improved.

A farm can be called rational if it is organized strictly according to local conditions, meets all the requirements of the environment and receives a high net income.

A.S. Ermolov understood by the farming system not only the method of restoration and maintenance of fertility, but also the ratio and alternation of crops in crop rotation, the ratio of farmland. Crop rotation, in his opinion, expresses not only the alternation of crops, but also the production direction of the farm.

D.N. Pryanishnikov

D.N. Pryanishnikov (1865-1948) considered crop rotation as an objective necessity and one of the important conditions for increasing crop yields, and the diversity of soil-climatic and economic conditions of the country necessitated the use of various crop rotations and methods of crop growing. He recommended the use of four-field fallow-row and cereal-grass-row crop rotations, the latter, in his opinion, were the most progressive, in which cereals, row crops and forage grasses, mainly legumes, as nitrogen fixers alternate.

Cereal-grass-row (fruit-changing) crop rotations seemed to be a means of rapid and simultaneous rise and growth of grain farming, cattle breeding and production of industrial crops.

“If a field of clover is added to a four-field crop rotation, the grain yield is doubled in comparison with a three-field rotation, and with the use of mineral fertilizers on the background of clover – is quadrupled”.

D.N. Pryanishnikov

W.R. Williams

W.R. Williams (1863-1939) defined the system of farming as a complex of agronomic measures aimed at the restoration, maintenance and continuous improvement of fertility. He developed a system of agronomic practices to restore and improve fertility, which he called grass-field farming system, which included rational organization, use of the entire farm land, the system of two crop rotations – field and forage, the system of tillage and crop care, fertilizer system, planting of shelterbelt forests.

According to W.R. Williams, the integral factor of arable fertility is soil structure. It was this statement that caused a number of gross mistakes made during the development and implementation of the grass-field farming system.

W.R. Williams emphasized that inseparability of its four elements is extremely important in grass-field system. Later he added to these four elements the system of seed production, which consists in sowing of selected seeds of high-yielding varieties, adapted to local conditions, and the system of land reclamation, including irrigation land reclamation in the areas of insufficient moisture and drainage – in the areas of excessive moisture.

The progressiveness of the grass-field system can be seen by comparing it with those systems that historically preceded it. It represents practical recommendations aimed at raising arable farming. But the grassland farming system could not solve grain and livestock problems in the USSR.

Widespread introduction of grass-field crop rotations in different regions of the country has shown that they are economically effective for the Non-Black Soil zone and completely ineffective in the steppe arid regions of the European part of the country.

The current state of the teachings of farming systems

Modern farming in socio-economic sense is a highly developed, intensive, sustainable, productive, soil-protective, environmentally sound and economically efficient agricultural production, which provides progressive growth of high-quality products regardless of climatic conditions with rational use of land, resources and expanded reproduction of soil fertility.

Modern systems of farming is a new knowledge-intensive stage of systems development. The main directions of improvement are drought control, soil protection from erosion, environmental safety and protection of the environment from pollution by agrochemicals and mineral fertilizers, creation of favorable conditions for growth and development of crops, labor and human life, achieving maximum economic efficiency.


Farming. Textbook for universities / G.I. Bazdyrev, V.G. Loshakov, A.I. Puponin et al. – Moscow: Publishing House “Kolos”, 2000. – 551 с.

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Farming and crop production. Edited by V.S. Niklyaev. – Moscow: Bylina, 2000. – 555 с.

Farming system

Farming system is a complex of agrotechnical, reclamation, organizational and economic measures aimed at rational and efficient use of land and other resources, reproduction of soil fertility in order to obtain maximum and sustainable yields of crops.

Used land means arable land, as well as land which may be used for agricultural purposes: meadow and pasture land, swamped land and land overgrown with tree and shrub vegetation, disturbed land which is subject to recultivation.

Modern agriculture is a complex multi-component system, the individual components of which are in relationship with each other and the natural environment.

Development of the teaching of farming systems in Russia

The teaching of farming systems in Russia emerged in the second half of the 18th century thanks to the works of agricultural scientists A.T. Bolotov, I.M. Komov, V.A. Levshin and agricultural practitioners of the early 19th century – D.M. Poltoratsky, I.I. Samarin.

During the period of feudal reform of land ownership, serfdom of peasants and communal land tenure the fallow system of agriculture with the usual three-field cereal crop rotation was widespread.

The teaching was developed in XIX century in the works of M.G. Pavlov, A.V. Sovetov, A.N. Engelhardt, A.P. Ludogovsky, I.A. Stebut, etc.

In the Soviet period, a great contribution to the science of agriculture was made by D.N. Pryanishnikov, V.R. Williams and other Soviet scientists.

Types of farming systems

Main article: Farming systems: Types of farming systems

Farming systems are divided into:

  • primitive:
    • slash-and-burn;
    • forest-grassland;
    • fallow;
    • swidden;
  • extensive:
    • fallow;
    • multi-field grassland;
  • transitional:
    • improved cereal;
    • grass-field;
  • intensive:
    • cereal-grass-row;
    • industrial-plant (row crop);
  • zonal;
  • alternative.

Agrolandscape farming

Agrolandscape, or adaptive-landscape, farming is a farming system adapted to local landscapes that meets the requirements of environmental safety, rational land use and soil fertility reproduction, obtaining high and sustainable yields.

Agrolandscape system of farming exists only at the level of agricultural enterprise (farm). General distinctive features of landscape systems of enterprises in the region can be formulated for the district, region.

Landscape is a relatively homogeneous section of the geographical shell of the land, isolated in the course of its evolution and distinguished by its structure, the nature of the relationship and interaction between components. Landscapes that have been developed by agricultural production are called agrolandscape. In the process of agricultural use, the natural landscape is not changed to its core, but only partially transformed.

Agrolandscape is a natural and productive territorial complex of agricultural purposes, functioning as a natural and anthropogenic resource-reproducing and environment-forming geo-ecosystem.

Until recently, in the development of farming systems the main task was to achieve a given value of crop yields by meeting the biological needs of crops. Modern farming systems, in addition to achieving the goal of maximum production, are required to make the best possible balanced use of the resource potential without harming the environment. In order to realize this goal, agrolandscape farming should represent an agrolandscape management system based on the laws of natural systems functioning.

The development of agrolandscape farming systems is based on the following principles:

  • zonality,
  • adaptability of crops,
  • adaptation of cultivation technologies to terrain conditions,
  • integrity of the functioning of elements and parts of the system as a whole,
  • optimization,
  • normativity, i.e. dosage of intensification factors,
  • environmental orientation,
  • socio-economic expediency,
  • environmental safety,
  • aesthetic attractiveness.

In practice, this is achieved by rational transformation of land, the selection of crops and improving the structure of cultivated areas adapted to local soil and climatic and hydrogeological conditions, placement of agricultural crops, taking into account mutual influences in agricultural systems, the rational use of natural forage lands, the optimal allocation of agricultural land for other types, such as forest plantations, hydrotechnical structures.

When developing agrolandscape farming systems, priority should be given to the landscape morpho-genetic structure of the territory over administrative and economic boundaries. The establishment of agro-landscape boundaries should be carried out after the environmental organization of the agrolandscape. Therefore, the development of agrolandscape systems requires:

  • classification, mapping and typification of agrolandscapes;
  • analysis of the potential of natural and anthropogenic resources;
  • scheme of the intensity of material and energy flows, taking into account the
  • conjugation of cascade landscape-geochemical systems;
  • monitoring;
  • method of ecological and economic evaluation of agrolandscape systems.

Since the agrolandscape farming system is developed for a specific territory, in the process of its design it is necessary to use unified taxonomic units of the agrolandscape that meet the requirements of:

  • clarity of allocated boundaries;
  • unified functioning of the system of agrolandscape elements;
  • ensuring assessment and control of the functioning regime.

These requirements are well met by elementary watersheds (gully, valley, ravine, etc.), within the boundaries of which the resource potential is evaluated and the ways of rational land use of the territory are determined.

The methodological basis for designing agrolandscape farming systems is the systematic approach and modeling. Given that the development of a farming system for a particular taxonomic unit of agrolandscape is a complex process, the basic model of the system should be considered from the position of the structure model and the model of functional properties. The basic model includes models of individual elements of the farming system, models of regimes and processes occurring in agrolandscapes, as well as models of relationships, uniting private models into one whole.

The essence of modern farming systems

The essence of the farming system as a scientifically grounded agro-ecological-economic complex is determined by the yield considered as a result of complex interaction between soil (fertility), plants, climate, agro-productive activities of human in a certain territory in time. Therefore, the main task of the farming system is to obtain maximum, stable yields with high quality products.

This task can be achieved only through the most complete use of solar energy received per unit area in a given locality. The maximum possible absorption of solar energy is determined by fertility, i.e. the availability and abundance of terrestrial plant life factors.

All modern farming systems must be normative and comprehensive in content. System normativity is a technological model of soil fertility, which takes into account biological characteristics of crops and their yield levels, based on the dosage of intensification factors. The input parameters of the model are:

  • arable layer thickness, cm;
  • content of water-retaining macroaggregates, %;
  • soil density, g/cm3;
  • humus content, %;
  • maximum permissible number of weeds per 1 m2;
  • phosphorus P2O5 and potassium K2O content, mg/100 g of soil;
  • acidity.

Reproduction of soil fertility is carried out by agrotechnical and reclamation measures on a normative basis using calculation and balance methods of fertility and yield programming.

For all the importance of economic and social relations in agriculture, they are still secondary in relation to the created yield. The biological nature of the crop, its quantity and quality are primary. The priority of biological and technological principles determines the agronomic essence and theoretical basis of farming systems. The amount of bound solar energy in the crop is the key indicator and condition of highly effective farming.

Influence of natural factors on bioproduction process is reflected in climate, soil, and plant. Each natural zone is characterized by certain amounts of physiologically active radiation, heat and atmospheric precipitation, their distribution during the year, the level of potential soil fertility, the species composition of crops and the nature of the created product. These are the primary objective conditions that limit the amount and quality of agricultural production.

Secondary and subjective factors influencing the bioproductive process and the value of the agricultural product include production technology, economic, social, and even historical conditions.

The connection between the primary and secondary factors is achieved through the cultivated plant, the yield of which is determined by the functioning of the farming system as a whole.

Thus, the theoretical basis of farming systems is the regulation of the production process in agrocenoses and soil fertility reproduction. The plant and soil are considered as one whole, as the main factor of farming sustainability. This unity is achieved through maximum adaptation to the specific conditions of the agrolandscape with normative ecological requirements. The essence of adaptation lies in creating agro-ecological conditions and consistent optimization of limiting factors that meet the biological and agrotechnical requirements of cultivated plants.

With regard to the conditions of a particular enterprise, the farming system should solve the following tasks:

  • provide rational use of bioclimatic potential, land, plant, water, technical, labor and other resources;
  • to create optimal conditions for the sustainable development and high productivity of crop production and other specializations of the enterprise in order to obtain the maximum quantity of quality products with minimum labor and resource inputs;
  • to increase soil fertility;
  • prevent the risks of erosion processes and environmental pollution.

Developing a farming system

When developing a farming system for the enterprise, the following requirements are taken into account:

  1. Intensity of farming. It is determined by the level of application of mechanization and automation, land reclamation, and chemicalization. To assess the effectiveness of intensification, indicators of growth of crop yields and productivity of forage lands, growth of labor productivity, reduction of costs per unit of production may be used.
  2. Cultivation technology should be soil-protective and energy-saving.
  3. Soil-protective, soil-improving and nature-protecting orientation. 
  4. Extended reproduction of soil fertility through the use of fertilizers, grass sowing, intermediate crops, soil improvement methods of tillage, melioration. For this differentiated models of soil fertility are envisaged, taking into account soil type, planned crop yields, level of intensification.
  5. Economic feasibility. For the system of agriculture its place and importance in the general system of farming, specialization, correlation and combination with other areas, resource potential are determined.

Farming system is not uniform, it must be dynamic, i.e. constantly improving and adapting to external conditions.

Components of farming systems

The farming system as a whole consists of interrelated parts:

  • organization of the territory of land use,
  • organization of crop rotations,
  • tillage systems,
  • fertilizer systems,
  • plant protection systems,
  • crops cultivation technologies,
  • seed growing system,
  • reclamation measures,
  • systems of control over the environmental situation,
  • machinery system.

Organization of the land use territory of the farm

Scientifically justified organization of the land territory of an agricultural enterprise with all its land, water bodies, road network, industrial buildings and other facilities is the organizational and technological basis that unites all components of the agricultural system into a whole.

Organization of the territory of land use is developed on the basis of the project of intrafarm land management in which it is specified:

  • the area of land use,
  • number of separate land plots,
  • availability of agricultural land,
  • location of each land plot and crop rotation,
  • characterization of soil and climatic conditions and vegetation cover,
  • calculate bioclimatic potential and on its basis determine the possibility of cultivation of various crops and their potential yields;
  • existing and planned specialization,
  • the existing and planned specialization, and the organizational and production structure of the farm,
  • the scale and pace of development of production,
  • the average annual need for feed.

Separate attention is paid to expansion of arable area at the expense of low-productive forage lands and other lands, elimination of shallow contour and disconnection of lands. If there are meliorated lands, measures on intensification of these lands and programmed cultivation of high yields are determined.

Forms of land area organization can be rectangular, contour, contour-lane, contour-meliorative.

Organization of crop rotations

In different natural zones of Russia, the ratio of areas of prime land can vary significantly. Thus, in the southern regions the share of ploughed land reaches 80-90%, in the more northern regions up to 60-70% can account for forest and natural forage lands. Depending on the areas of arable and natural forage lands and the specialization of the agricultural enterprise the structure of the sown area and the system of crop rotations are developed.

Construction of crop rotations system is based on agroecological grouping of lands and structure of sown area. The minimum number of crop rotations must be equal to the number of agroecological groups of lands, and the maximum number is determined by technological expediency and economic efficiency. Land plots with limited suitability are used according to individual plan outside of crop rotation.

In the farming system the system of crop rotations must be the most optimal for each group of lands, ensuring ecological safety of the agrolandscape.

The system of crop rotations is developed on the basis of:

  • rational structure of sown areas;
  • adopted specialization,
  • soil and climatic conditions,
  • market conditions,
  • fodder requirements,
  • material and technical resources,
  • production technology,
  • the level of economic development of the enterprise.

The system of crop rotations should create optimal conditions for the organization of labor and the use of machinery.

Tillage system

Like the entire farming system, tillage should be soil-protective.

The construction of tillage system should be based on the requirements:

  1. Methods and technologies of tillage are determined by soil and climatic conditions, agrolandscape, biological features of crops, the degree of risk of erosion processes, hydrological conditions, and phytosanitary state of soil.
  2. Different-depth tillage of the soil in the rotation, which provides a reasonable alternation of the methods of mouldboard, non-moldboard, deep and surface tillage.
  3. Minimization of tillage, which is achieved by a good state of soil cultivation.
  4. Ecological, economic and soil-protective expediency of the applied methods and technologies of tillage, based on the balance of energy costs, their impact on the yield and fertility.

The system of tillage is developed for each crop rotation. The developed system of tillage is improved in the course of its use in the direction of its adaptation to the geomorphological and lithological conditions of the agricultural landscape.

Fertilizer system

Main article: Fertilizer system

Fertilizer system is a complex of agronomic and organizational measures, providing the use of organic and mineral fertilizers to increase yield and its quality, as well as the reproduction of soil fertility.

Fertilizer system, first, includes the development and implementation of organizational and economic measures for the production, procurement, purchase, transportation and storage of fertilizers. Including the identification of resources for local production of fertilizers, their procurement and storage, identification of the need for different types of fertilizers, reclamation materials, industrial mineral fertilizers, organization of their delivery, storage and application to the soil, the need to mix, fertilizer application in given proportions, taking into account fertility, crop requirements and agricultural engineering.

Secondly, the fertilizer system is a rational distribution of fertilizers in crop rotations and within them, the definition of optimum doses, timing and methods of use. This part of the fertilizer system is developed taking into account local soil and climate conditions and economic opportunities of the farm.

Fertilizer system in the crop rotation is a component of the fertilizer system, which is based on plans for the use of organic and mineral fertilizers, lime for crops in the rotation. These plans determine the doses, timing and methods of application for certain crops, taking into account the planned yields, biological characteristics of crops and their alternation, cultivation technology, soil, climatic and hydrological conditions, the properties of fertilizers, economic conditions of the enterprise.

In conditions of risk of water erosion development fertilizer system should take into account diversity of relief elements, their morphological characteristics, degree of soil washing out, runoff, lithological conditions.

Along with the landscape approach to the distribution of fertilizers take into account the effectiveness of their interaction with other elements of the farming system – tillage, crop rotation, timing and seeding rates. For example, nitrogen fertilizers can act as a decisive factor in minimizing tillage, the use of straw as mulch, reducing the proportion of bare fallow in the structure of sowing areas, deepening specialization. Under conditions of phosphorus deficit, the efficiency of bare fallow decreases, the loss of nitrogen from the soil due to its incomplete use by plants increases. Application of fertilizers is possible to regulate the rate of growth and development of plants at different stages of organogenesis, to accelerate or slow maturation, taking into account the timing of sowing and the formation of plant nutrition area using different methods and rates of sowing.

Row fertilizer accelerates the growth of the secondary root system of cereal crops, which often determines the formation of yields. Fertilizers can prevent or mitigate the effects of various stress factors on plants, improve adaptability to adverse conditions, drought and frost resistance.

Fertilizers influence plant resistance to diseases. For example, phosphate fertilizers promote root system development, increase disease resistance and resistance to pathogens. Potassium fertilizers help thicken cell walls, increase the strength of mechanical tissues, and inhibit the development of fungal diseases. Nitrogen fertilizers, on the contrary, stimulate the development of diseases.

The fertilizer system in the rotation depends on the agrochemical background of the soil and the requirements of crops. At the first stage of its development task is to regulate the nutrition of plants in the least balanced sections, such as optimization of phosphorus nutrition of cereals after fallow, nitrogen – in the background without plowing and minimum tillage, especially when leaving straw; top dressing of winter crops in spring and perennial grasses, starter row fertilization, etc. When achieving the necessary level of provision of cultivated land with mineral fertilizers, required for the development of anti-erosion measures, crop rotations with a certain ratio of crops, fallows, that is, optimization of farming systems. Further use of fertilizers should be based on the calculation of the planned yields of crops. To determine the maximum dose of fertilizers, if necessary, guided by the maximum profit, taking into account environmental constraints. Setting the optimum doses, depending on soil and climatic conditions and resource availability, it should be borne in mind that an excessive concentration of fertilizers on individual fields is not rational, as well as their dispersion over the fields.

Application of organic and mineral fertilizers in optimal doses is most effective.

Environmental negative effects are particularly acute in the production of vegetable crops, characterized by the greatest ability to accumulate nitrates and other residual chemicals. Therefore, vegetable production needs biologicalization, i.e. increasing the share of organic fertilizers in the fertilizer system, perennial grasses in crop rotations, the use of biological plant protection agents.

Excessive concentration of livestock waste poses a great ecological hazard. The main way of their use is the fertilization of perennial grasses.

Uneven application of organic and mineral fertilizers is a serious economic and environmental problem. Uneven application leads to uneven stem density in the field, uneven ripening, reduced product quality, increased leaching of nutrients. Losses from infiltration increase with increasing doses of fertilizers. According to T.N. Kulakovskaya, in Belarus in years with excessive moisture the loss of nitrogen from leaching on sandy soils reaches 60 kg/ha, on loamy sands – 20-25 kg/ha, on loamy – 10 kg/ha. In years with normal moisture these figures are reduced by about 2 times. Nitrogen losses in the form of gaseous compounds are 10-30% of the applied nitrogen (Mineev, 1984).

To prevent nitrogen losses, and consequently to reduce irrational costs, it is necessary to optimize the doses, forms and timing of nitrogen fertilizers for each crop of the crop rotation, to distribute and incorporate them evenly in the soil.

Intensification of farming leads to an increasing role of soil organic matter. In modern farming it determines soil buffering capacity, absorption capacity, biological activity, transformation and inactivation of pesticides and other agrochemicals, the possibility of using minimum tillage and reducing energy costs, increases the stability of farming in adverse weather conditions.

According to generalized data, to maintain a deficit-free balance of humus in the arable layer of various soils of Russia it is necessary to make on average 6.5 t of standard manure per 1 ha, in the Central Black Earth zone – 7.0 t/ha, in the Central region – 5.0 t/ha, Volgo-Vyatsky – 11.6 t/ha, North Caucasus – 5.8 t/ha

Plant protection system

Plant protection system is a system of management and regulation of phytosanitary potential of crops and soil. The number of pests and weeds is regulated by a set of interrelated organizational, agrotechnical, biological and chemical measures.

The rational system of plant protection is based on the accounting of the number of pests and weeds, and the forecast of their distribution. The forecast serves as the basis for planning the scope of work, determines the need for agrotechnical, chemical, biological means, machinery, material and labor costs.

The purpose of the plant protection system is to preserve harvests by means of regulatory mechanisms within agroecosystems to maintain the number of pests and weeds at the level of ecological and economic thresholds of harmfulness.

Under modern agro-landscape farming systems, biological and cultural methods of plant protection gain leading importance. Scientific validity of all parts of the farming system allows you to build the most effective and economically and environmentally rational system of plant protection.

Organizational and economic (cultural) measures of plant protection include: crop rotations, use of quality seeds, zoned varieties resistant to diseases and pests, compliance with optimal timing and quality of technological methods, preventive measures.

Agrotechnical methods of plant protection, as a rule, are used in conjunction with the system of tillage: during the pre-sowing, post-sowing and post-harvest tillage. 

Chemical plant protection measures include seed dressing, spraying of soil and crops with pesticides or herbicides, disinfection of storages and currents, etc. The use of chemical methods requires accurate compliance with the timing, doses and methods of application of preparations, requirements for environmental protection and safe work practices. The role of chemical methods increases with increasing specialization of agricultural production and the level of intensification. Rejection of their use leads to a significant decrease in the effectiveness of fertilizers and land reclamation, however, chemical methods should be considered as an exceptional method when others cannot bring sufficient results.

Biological method of pest and weed plant population control involves maintaining the density of natural entomophages with biological preparations, introduction of parasites or predators, artificial increase in the number of entomophages, use of entomopathogens, ferromones, insect hormones, repellents, attractants, release of sterile insects, etc.

Proper choice of biological, agrotechnical, chemical and other means of plant protection determines the effectiveness of the plant protection system.

Crop cultivation technologies

Crop cultivation technology is a technological complex of practices aimed at creating optimal conditions for the growth and development of plants. It includes techniques performed from the moment of clearing the field by the predecessor to the harvesting. Techniques include basic and pre-sowing tillage, fertilizing, preparation of seeds for sowing, seeding, care of crops.

Cultivation technologies are developed taking into account agro-ecological requirements of crops and varieties to growing conditions, as a consistent overcoming of factors limiting the yield and quality of products and creation of optimal conditions for specific conditions of the enterprise (material and technical resources, economic and environmental). Like other elements of the farming system, cultivation technologies must be closely linked with other elements.

Intensive cultivation technologies presuppose a fundamentally different set of technical, agrochemical, and biological means from traditional ones. These technologies involve not only the creation of an optimal level of mineral nutrition of plants and an appropriate system of plant protection, but also the quality of all field work. Application of intensive technologies implies control over the content of pesticide residues in the soil and grown agricultural products.

The system of use of natural forage lands

System of use of natural forage lands – a system of arrangement of hayfields and pastures, which includes measures for their rational use taking into account the needs for forage and soil protection from erosion. The activities of the system include:

  • organization of hayfield and pasture rotation,
  • care of hayfields and pastures,
  • re-creation of meadows,
  • organization of grass seed production, etc.

Seed production system

The seed production system, or the organization of on-farm seed production, includes:

  • seed production planning,
  • technologies of cultivation of field crops for seeds,
  • varietal and seed control,
  • postharvest processing,
  • seed storage,
  • seed preparation for sowing,
  • varietal changes and varietal renewal,
  • establishment of insurance and transfer (for winter crops) seed funds.

Sowing is carried out with seeds of high (not less than fifth) reproductions of the first and second classes of sowing standard.

When planning seed production, one determines the sources of seed supply, the procedure for variety change and variety renewal, the yield of conditioned seeds, the structure of sown areas, seeding rate, the creation of basic, insurance and transferable seed funds, and the material and technical support of seed production.

Technologies of cultivation of agricultural crops for seeds should be developed taking into account the fact that the high saturation with pesticides and mineral fertilizers, non-storm culture can lead to deterioration of germination and growth power of seeds and sometimes to decrease the quality of the harvest.

Cultivation of high-quality seeds of released varieties and hybrids involves varietal control, the purpose of which is to determine the conformity of crops to the variety, the degree of varietal purity (typicality) and suitability of the crop as a whole for seed. The main method of varietal control is field testing, which determines the varietal purity, typicality, weediness of crops by difficult to separate cultural and weed plants, establish the presence of quarantine, noxious and poisonous weeds, pests and diseases, control the implementation of requirements of growing technology and maintaining varietal documentation.

Quality control of seeds is subdivided into on-farm and state. On-farm control is carried out during harvesting, when seeds come to the field, during postharvest handling and storage. The state control is carried out by the State Seed Control Service.

For the purposes of state seed control, samples of seeds are taken at the beginning of storage and before sowing and submitted to the regional seed control inspectorates to confirm their quality.

Variety change consists in replacing old low-yielding and low-quality varieties with new ones. Varietal renewal is the periodic replacement of seeds of low reproductive varieties already involved in production with higher reproductive varieties. The basis for renewal is elite. The frequency of varietal renewal is once every 4-6 years.

There should be no varietal renewal during the planned introduction of new varieties into production. The creation of a new variety should take place over a period during which the deterioration of variety qualities and yield properties of the old variety reaches the threshold of economic importance. However, in practice, permanent varietal change in 4-5 years is not yet possible.

Ameliorative measures

Ameliorative measures are aimed at radical improvement of land and microclimate of lands. They include: irrigation, drainage, arrangement of reservoirs, chemical melioration, cultural and technical works, land reclamation, meliorative tillage, agro-forest-melioration, etc.

Irrigation regulates water supply to plants and promotes creation of favorable water, nutrient, air, heat, salt regimes of soil. Irrigation systems can be permanent (regularly operating), temporary, created for irrigation during the season and once operating, or liman irrigation, for example, for the retention of melt water.

Special types of irrigation include fertilizer irrigation, warming irrigation, which uses waste water from thermal stations, geysers to irrigate fields, greenhouses, washing water to dissolve and wash out harmful salts from the root layer of soil.

Dewatering of over-watered and waterlogged lands allows to regulate water-air regime of root layer. The main methods of dewatering are:

  • acceleration of surface and subsurface runoff on watershed boundaries and gentle slopes with heavy soils and atmospheric type of water supply;
  • interception of surface and ground water entering the drainage area;
  • lowering of groundwater table with high level of its standing;
  • warming reclamation in permafrost conditions, where over-watering leads to deep freezing of top-soil soils;
  • two-way dewatering and humidifying regulation of soil moisture.

The main methods of drainage:

  • single channels and systematic open network on permeable soils;
  • open canals or closed horizontal drainage in combination with agromeliorative measures on poorly water permeable mineral soils;
  • closed drainage of low thickness peatlands, underlain by poorly permeable soils and used for arable land;
  • preliminary drainage of thick (more than 1.5-2 m) peatlands by open channels and mole drainage with subsequent laying of closed drainage after peat settling;
  • drainage of peatlands by open channels in combination with sparse closed drainage when using them for arable land and pastures.

Agro-forest-meliorative measures are aimed at soil protection from erosion processes, improvement of microclimate and water regime. They include creation of field-protecting, water-regulating, pasture-protecting forest belts, “green zones” on pastures, forest belts on irrigated areas, afforestation of ravines, gullies, sands, banks of rivers and reservoirs, steep eroded slopes.

Environmental control system

The system of environmental control includes monitoring the state of soil cover, soil fertility of agrolandscapes, surface and ground water, perennial vegetation, natural nesting places of birds and insects, accumulation of nitrates and pesticides in products and environmental objects.

On erosion-prone and eroded lands, a soil-protective set of measures is provided: soil-protective crop rotations and methods of tillage, ameliorative measures. 

Environmental protection measures are developed for each element of the farming system.

System of machines

The machine system should strive to provide comprehensive mechanization of cultivation and harvesting of crops, replacement of manual labor in all technological operations with mechanized. Complexes of machines should be formed in accordance with the technology of crops cultivation in relation to specific soil and climatic conditions.

The machinery system should provide for an increase in the power capacity of tractors, an increase in the working speed and working width of units, the use of universal and combined machines, progressive forms of organization of field work and improvement of the qualifications of specialists.

Labor organization

Organization of labor in crop production consists in:

  • organization of labor collectives and assignment of crop rotations, fields and natural forage lands, labor processes;
  • establishment of work and rest regimes, labor remuneration.

Production collectives are formed in accordance with the specific economic and natural conditions of the enterprise. There are various modern forms and approaches in management and organization of labor, based on domestic or foreign experience. The effectiveness of forms of labor organization is determined by a wide range of factors.

Zonal features of farming systems

There are several natural-climatic zones in Russia, and the farming systems in each of them have their own features. In particular, there are farming systems:

  • Non-Black Earth (taiga-forest) zone;
  • Central Black Earth zone;
  • Volga region;
  • Northern Caucasus;
  • steppe and forest-steppe regions of Siberia;
  • Far East.

Farming systems of irrigated regions are considered separately.


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Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Farming and crop production. Edited by V.S. Niklyaev. – Moscow: Bylina, 2000. – 555 с.

Fundamentals of Agronomy: Tutorial/Y.V. Evtefeev, G.M. Kazantsev. – M.: FORUM, 2013. – 368 p.: ill.