Three-Field System

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Three-Field System


a system of crop rotation using three fields on which fallow, winter crops, and spring crops alternate. The three-field system was characteristic of the fallow system of crop cultivation used in feudal times and was employed on peasant farms in tsarist Russia and other countries.

The three-field system was used mainly for grain and was always combined with livestock raising. Natural meadows and threshing-floor food provided the feed for the animals. Soil fertility was restored in the fallow field by applying manure and cultivating the field several times in the summer to destroy weeds and accumulate moisture. In the autumn, winter crops—primarily rye—were sown in the fallow field. After the winter crops were harvested, spring crops, which benefitted from the residual effects of the manure fertilizer, were sown. After the meadows had been gradually plowed up, the fallow land, which was overgrown with weeds, was used as pasture in the first half of the summer, with cultivation being postponed until the second half of the summer. Under such conditions the three-field system could not assure constant harvests.

With the development of capitalist relations in agriculture, the three-field system was gradually replaced by the fallow-row crop and nonfallow rotation systems. Multifield rotation systems did not come into use in Russia until after the October Revolution of 1917.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.