Farmers on Canada’s Prince Edward Island are being taken back to school. Yahoo! News reports that farmers in the area have been fined for failing to properly rotate crops by year and season, and an education initiative has been planned to better inform them on its importance.
Traditionally, farms in the area have grown potatoes, barley, and wheat in a three-year rotation. Officials are now seeing a switch to a more lucrative schedule of potatoes, soy, and wheat. The planting of potatoes is only lawfully permitted once every three years for any one field.
Farmers who violate crop rotation laws are subject to steep fines, paying $1,000 per hectare of land unlawfully planted. One offender, Farmer G. Warren Ellis, was charged and held responsible for a $48,040 fine for his 48.04 hectares of land.
Failure to rotate crops correctly can have serious environmental consequences. Planting the same crops, especially ones that sap large amounts of nutrients from the soil, like potatoes, causes the soil to lose nutrients. By rotating crops, the nutrient levels required by the plant are allowed to return to near equilibrium before the crop is planted again. This prevents soil erosion, runoff into nearby water sources and inhibits the rapid spread of species-specific diseases.