We have less than 10 years left to reduce our carbon footprint as a planet to prevent irreversible climate change. One big area we need to focus on is our agriculture systems.
That’s because most of our agriculture comes from monoculture farms and plantations. There are a lot of disadvantages of monoculture farms that are bad. We’re going to do a quick dive into monocropping and why we need to switch, plus the alternatives we can consider.
What Is Monocropping?
Monocropping is when a farmer -whether an industrial scale or local gardener farmer – only plants one thing on the same land every single year. This has some perks for the farmer.
It’s easier to maintain the proper sunlight and watering amount for each plant, it’s easier to buy seeds in bulk. It’s easier to treat big groups of plants that might be getting hurt by pests or diseases.
Generally, monocropping can help a farm be more profitable because you only need to take care of one type of crop well.
The alternative to monocropping is poly cropping. With poly cropping, you can either rotate out the plant you grow on that land each year, or you can grow multiple plants in harmony at once.
How Does That Affect the Environment?
One of the biggest disadvantages of monocropping is the way it affects the soil. Plants suck nutrients out of the soil and can return nutrients to the soil. Different plants affect soil nutrient levels and pH in different ways.
So when you only plant one type of plant in soil, each successive generation of the plant will have less healthy soil than the generation before. This means the farmer has to invest in a lot of special fertilizer to get the soil to a nutritious level.
Monocropping also means the farmer has to use pesticides, which can be toxic to humans, soil, and end up in our water supply. Since all the crops are the same, it leaves fields at risk of a devastating disease that could rampage the entire crop.
What Can We Do Instead?
Fortunately, we know a lot about companion planting. This is a series or group of plants that grow better together than when left to grow on their own. They can affect soil nutrients in complimentary ways, or help fight pests better together.
Another thing we can do is to start shopping more at sustainable micro-farms to encourage healthier farming practices.
The Disadvantages of Monoculture Prove We Need to Reconsider the Way We Farm
There are plenty of disadvantages of monoculture farms, that leads to less nutritious soil, soil runoffs, and risk of food plagues.
But fortunately, there are sustainable alternatives available. We should expect to see a switch to these alternatives over the next few years. This will help preserve our soil, keep food chains more local, and create more pest-resistant crops, all while limiting the number of fertilizers and pesticides we use.
We understand how important it is to have sustainable food supply chains, so we have an entire section dedicated to starting your garden. Check it out so you can support a new wave of more eco-friendly food choices.