Crop Rotation

We know Thomas Jefferson wrote the YouTube Video Cropper of Independence. He really want major credit for pushing crop rotation in new America, though. Jefferson was a pretty decent man, so it’s said, for an old rich guy with a wig. He, and his good buddy George Washington, did indeed pound on people to rotate their crops to improve their farms, and people seemed scared enough to pay attention. It’s also said by colonials “in the know” that Jefferson and Washington were helpfully both tall and muscular.

All right, enough gossipy chit-chat. The horrible truth is, other cultures say they figured out this crop rotation idea before Mr. President Gentlemanfarmer Thomas Jefferson. About 6,000 years before. Ancient Egyptians claim they have videos to prove it. We’ll check our local library because we are skeptical, but they may be right. Anyway, just which of these two – Jefferson, or a bunch of old Egyptians — was important enough to show up on the United States two-dollar bill? Hah!

Therefore, if Jefferson gets credit in our U.S. history textbooks for crop rotation in the new United States, then what were the details? Here is a recently found archived interview with a reporter from the Baltimore Barnacle Chronicle.

REPORTER: Mr. President, can you tell us why this crop rotation scheme is necessary?

JEFFERSON: Good question, Jake, and the reason has been the huge waste of our farm land from raising certain crops which drain our soils of nutrients.

REPORTER: Could you give us an example of these bad crops?

JEFFERSON: Certainly. Corn, cotton, greens, tobacco, wheat, flax, tomatoes, potatoes, okra, oats, peppers, rye, oranges, apples, and peanuts. CCOGRAFTPWOTP, if you need an acronym.

REPORTER: Well, Mr. President, what crops can they plant?

JEFFERSON: Alfalfa.

REPORTER: Alfalfa. There must be something else.

JEFFERSON: All right, then buckwheat!

REPORTER: But, Mr. President, these don’t sound all that tasty.

JEFFERSON: Whatsamatter, weren’t you born in a barn? These two sterling crops put oxygen in the soil in the daytime, and nitrogen at night. When you plow them back into the ground, you eventually get outstanding-quality dirt, full of vitamins: A, B, C, G.

REPORTER: Um, perhaps you can tell us just how this “Crop rotation” works.

JEFFERSON: Certainly, Jake, I’d be delighted and honored. The modern farmer divides his field into three parts. One third gets planted with alfalfa, one third gets plowed under, and one third lies fallow for the season. “Fallow” is farm talk for “don’t do squat with it.” Each year thereafter you do the same thing, but rotate these around all three thirds in turn.

REPORTER: Do the livestock get to eat the alfalfa?

JEFFERSON: Certainly not! Otherwise, what would there be to “plow under” next year? Sonny, didn’t you learn long division in school?

REPORTER: So, after a decade, what has the farmer got?

JEFFERSON: Clearly each one-third field has gotten exactly three rotations to fill that ten-year decade, making soil so powerful it could grow a beard on Mrs. Adams!

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