Photo of J.F. Duggar, who started the Old Rotation

Professor J.F. Duggar started the Old Rotation Experiment in 1896 to test his theory that “Alabama Agriculture will come unto its own when her fields are green in winter.”

By the late 1800s, most of the arable lands in the Southern U.S. had been cleared for cotton and corn production. Until that time, almost no lime and no fertilizers were used. Basically, most farmers still practiced “slash and burn” agriculture. When the land was exhausted, they moved on to new lands. However, by the late 1800s, there was no new land to move to. Existing farmland was rapidly eroding away under the practice of plowing the land in the fall and leaving it bare until planted in the spring. By 1910, over 4 million acres of cotton were planted in Alabama and about the same acreage of corn. Land Grant Universities and Agricultural Experiment Stations were developing new concepts for farming and just beginning to explore scientific agricultural production. In 1896, a young professor at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama (soon to be Alabama Polytechnic Institute and by 1960, Auburn University), J.F. Duggar, had a theory that “Alabama agriculture would come unto its own when her fields are green in winter.” To test his theory regarding planting cover crops, he began an experiment near campus. Today, Professor Duggar’s experiment is known as the “Old Rotation.”

A Historical Summary of Alabama’s Old Rotation

Overview of Long-Term Agronomic Research