In Czech, we have a special word for "leaving a field (agricultural) without seeding, resting." I wonder if English has such a word.

  • 2
    In the European Union bureaucracy, the modern word is set-aside, part of paying farmers not to grow things.
    – Henry
    Mar 22, 2011 at 15:41
  • @Henry I didn't know you did that in Europe too. Though to be fair, letting fields lie fallow is a legitimate and necessary practice.
    – Yitzchak
    Mar 22, 2011 at 16:31

4 Answers 4


We do have it. The word is fallow.

You'll frequently see it used in the following phrase:

We let the field lie fallow.

Another possibility is uncultivated though that's probably less common.

  • 1
    I think there's a clear implication that a fallow field is [passively, temporarily] incorporated into an ongoing agricultural process, whereas an unculivated field might never have been farmed, and might not even be suitable in the first place. Mar 22, 2011 at 14:54
  • @FumbleFingers - I mostly agree, with the small tweak I would suggest that fallow could also indicate a field that was previously farmed but is no longer part of an "ongoing agricultural process". E.g. The fields of my ancestors have lain fallow for generations.
    – Dusty
    Mar 22, 2011 at 15:02
  • maybe that's how some (you, aty least) see it, but personally I think it's oxymoronic for a field to lie fallow for generations. I was taught at school that you rotate different types of crop over 3 years, then lie fallow for one year. To "fix" the nitrogen, or something, I disremember. Mar 22, 2011 at 19:59
  • @FumbleFingers - I'm not sure what to tell you. Certainly its usage in crop rotation is common, but if you like I can provide several links to usage examples where fields were left fallow for many years. But I suppose that will only increase the some who believe like I do.
    – Dusty
    Mar 22, 2011 at 23:52
  • we all collectively define our shared language, and in a case like this I'm not going to argue that I'm right and you're wrong. But I would just say that I don't think you could use the word about land never cultivated. Only previously- (or imminently intended to be) cultivated fields can be left fallow, with the implication that they will soon be put back to use. Mar 23, 2011 at 0:30

In English, we speak of fields lying fallow.

From TheFreeOnlineDictionary:

fallow Plowed but left unseeded during a growing season


My farming in-laws, in the American mid-west, use the term "set aside ground" to refer to fields that are not planted, or planted with a nutrient restoring crop that is not harvested for profit.


The NOAD reports that fallow is an adjective meaning "(of farmland) plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production."

Other words with a similar meaning could be unplowed (unploughed in British English), untilled, resting, unsown, or bare.

  • The difference between fallow and the other words you give is that only fallow connotes intent while the others connote neglect, except for resting. By the way, I think you meant to write "fallow" not "follow."
    – Yitzchak
    Mar 22, 2011 at 15:33

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