SPIN’s Relay Cropping Intensifies Production

Courtesy of Roxanne C., co-author, SPIN-Farming, Philadelphia PA

Relay cropping is often confused with crop rotation, but its meaning and purpose are much different.

Crop rotation is the sequential growing of different crops in the same area from season to season. It is used to maintain soil health and control pests.

Relay cropping is the sequential growing of different crops, one right after the other, throughout the season, in the same plot. There are two types of relays: intensive relays and bi-relays.

In intensive relays, 3 or more crops are grown. An example of an intensive relay is:
lettuce > baby dill > lettuce > radish

In bi-relays, 2 crops are grown. An example of a bi-relay is potatoes > beans

Relays maximize the volume and diversity of crops from a plot, and produce higher income, than if the plot was planted in a single crop. Relays therefore significantly reduce the amount of land needed for commercial crop production.

This spinach plot is about to be relayed to radish.

SPIN photo relay tiller plowing under bed