Crop rotation is not a new idea; farmers have been doing it for ages. However, new research is starting to shed light on how a new rotation can help productivity and sustainability in Africa.

Soybeans and peanuts tend to be the primary crops in many parts of Africa. Peanuts can be nutritionally taxing on the soil, and while soybeans can often be restorative, greater productivity can be reached if a third crop is included into the rotation. Scientists from Michigan State University suggest shrubby legume plants.

Malawi has seen positive results using shrubby legumes in rotation with corn. Malawi has been said to be leading the scientific revolution of agriculture in Africa, with major funding going into growing calorie-dense foods to help feed starving populations. The problem with this has been, until recently, soil depletion in an already-dry area. However, the inclusion of these shrubby legume plants in the crop rotation has increased productivity and returned nutrients to the soil, in addition to generating another food product.

Crop diversification and rotation has been a part of agriculture for ages. Seeing its use revolutionize the growing potential of a continent in need is both rewarding and promising. Science and ingenuity will continue to allow agriculture to grow, spread, and adapt.