The 16 Best Crops to Grow for Crop Diversification

Agronomy: Even the most experienced farmers know that a single crop is risky business. When one crop fails, the entire farm suffers.

Every farmer knows that crop diversity reduces risk and increases yields in all circumstances.

But, how do you diversify your crops effectively? There are many ways to diversify your farm: grazing management, cover crops, intercropping, succession planting, etc.

However, for a small-scale and beginner farmer alike, growing more than one crop at a time can be challenging.

In this article we’ll discuss different ways to diversify your crops effectively as well as some of the best crops to grow for successful crop diversification. Let’s dive in…

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The 16 Best Crops to Grow for Crop Diversification

Agronomy: Every farmer knows that crop rotation is an effective way to manage soil, control weeds and insects, and prevent nutrient deficiencies. Crop rotation also helps manage risk by reducing the impact of natural disasters such as drought or disease on any one particular crop and its seeds. However, it’s not always easy for a small or beginning farmer to know which crops will provide the best balance for their land. There are many different ways to classify crops, but perhaps the most useful is by their suitability for growing in a limited space like a garden or small farm. This article lists 16 great crops for diversifying your farm with crop diversification.

What is Crop Diversification?

Crop diversification is a term used to describe a wide range of crops grown on the same piece of land. The goal is to maximize the benefits of growing many types of crops and minimize the negatives. What are the negatives of growing a wide range of crops? The first challenge is managing and rotating them properly. A wide variety of crops usually requires a wider variety of soil nutrients and a longer crop rotation. Managing these factors requires different tools, more time and more space devoted to these crops. That’s where the benefits come in. Growing many types of crops at the same time helps reduce the impact of factors that cause yield loss in a single crop. It’s easier to protect a wide range of crops from pests and diseases that might affect one type of plant more than another.

Beans, Peas, Legumes and Other Leguminous Crops

Agronomy: Legumes are a class of crops that are especially effective at enriching soils and reducing the need for fertilizer. They have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria that produce the nitrogen needed to grow. The bacteria get fed by the plant and in return provide the plant with the nutrients it needs to grow. Legumes include beans, peas, broad beans, lentils and peanuts. Beans and peas are annuals, which means that they grow and produce for only one season. They are often grown as a cover crop and then plowed back into the soil to add nutrients. Broad beans and lentils are grown as a cover crop or as a stand-alone crop to be harvested later in the year. They are a little slower to mature than beans, but are larger and produce more of a harvest.

Fruiting Vegetables

Fruiting plants are those that produce fruits or seeds. These plants will require more space to grow and may need more care and attention than a cover crop. However, they will be a major source of income if you decide to sell your produce. Fruiting vegetables include asparagus, cantaloupe, cucumbers, eggplant, gourds, green beans, mangoes, okra, peppers, squash and strawberries. Asparagus can be grown in a garden plot or in a raised bed. It is a perennial plant that will last for years. It can be harvested for up to 20 years with proper care. Cantaloupe, cucumbers, and squash are annuals that can be grown in a large container with soil or in a small garden plot. Eggplants, gourds, and peppers can be planted in a large container with soil or in a small garden plot. Green beans can be planted in a large container with soil or in a small garden plot. Mangoes, okra, and strawberries can be planted in a large container with soil or in a small garden plot.

Leafy Greens

Vegetables that are grown for their leaves are called leafy greens. These include lettuces, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and other greens. While these plants will produce edible leaves, they won’t produce seeds that can be harvested and sold. Most leafy greens can be grown in a garden plot or in a large container with soil. There are varieties of lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and other greens that are best suited to smaller containers and can be grown indoors.

Root Vegetables

Agronomy: Root vegetables, such as carrots, radishes, beets, and sweet potatoes, are grown for their edible roots. Unlike leafy greens, root vegetables can be stored through the winter and harvested again next year. Root vegetables can be planted in a garden plot, in rows, or in a large container with soil. Root vegetables are best suited to a large container with soil. Growing them in rows or a garden plot will take up too much space.


Crop diversification is an important part of any growing operation. It can reduce your risk of a total loss in the event of a natural disaster or an insect infestation. When carefully planned, a wide range of crops can be grown on a relatively small space. Each crop in a diverse garden has its own benefits, and growing a wide variety of crops can help you get the most out of your land.

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