Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Published in Agron. J. 93:1337–1340 (2001).


It has been commonly accepted that crop rotations reduce risk compared with monoculture systems. Quantifying this phenomenon requires that effects of yield stability on risk (positive or negative) arising from rotating crops be separated from other risk elements. Using an ARS–University of Nebraska series of yields for corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] grown over a 14-yr period, both in rotation and in monoculture, the impact of crop rotation on risk was isolated and estimated. Risk was defined as the failure to meet an annual per-hectare net return target. A corn–soybean rotation had significantly less risk than monoculture practices. Diversification was found to contribute to part of this reduction while higher yields and reduced cost contributed to the remainder. This reduction in risk occurred even though the corn–soybean rotation had a higher yield variance.