Monoculture farming is a contemporary agricultural practice where the whole land is used to grow only one kind of crop. It is one of the most debatable topics because on one hand it allows increased efficiency in planting and harvesting forfarmers to maximize the efficiency of agricultural inputs and machinery by choosing a single crop, on the other hand, it has been linked to unsustainable environments as it is said to build-up disease and pest pressures, increase nutrient strain in the soil or soil degradation over time, and deforestation due to land requirements.
Let’s delve into the advantages and disadvantages of this practice:
This practice is more efficient and profitable for the farmers. The crops which suit the region’s climatic conditions are only planted so it gives proper protection to the crops whether it be drought, wind, flood or short growing season, favouring the crop and thus less impact on the yield. It is best suited for crops like wheat, vegetable and barley.
Enhances farmers’ efficiency and is uncomplicated
Raising a single crop reduces the complexity of farming, which is also beneficial to the farming process. One plant only needs to be studied and cared for by a farmer. Identifying and correcting nutrient deficiencies is much simpler.
Plants will not require different nutritional mixtures, so the farmer won’t run into complications. Also, during harvesting, monocultures provide uniformity as it is easy to collect the produce through straightforward techniques, which would otherwise be complicated if the crop was sharing the same field with other varieties.
Increases the speed of crop planting
Due to the uniformity in monoculture, it is very easy to determine the distance between seeds to make the most of available space. An entire garden bed can be prepared with the equipment after only one configuration.
They can then walk the fields with a seed planting device, depositing the seeds one by one. Getting the optimal amount of space each plant needs.
A larger harvest
Monocultures allow individuals to precisely place plants in their fields to maximize their yield.Plants are less likely to overcrowd one another when one knows how the crop will grow. Overcropping can result in mold infestation in some crops, such as grapes. When mold sets in, it can be devastating to the yield. It is easier to care for the crop since nutrient deficiencies are likely to be seen in most plants. Farmers can quickly identify problems, thanks to uniformity.
A focus on crops that can fetch the most money with the least amount of land can increase farmers’ profit margins. For them, focusing on just one type of crop would make the most sense.
Many small-demand or regional crops are ignored by the farmers leading to loss of diversity in the food supply that impacts both pricing and nutrition. Many nutritional and environmentally sustainable crops have undergone decreased cultivation area and production, thereby negatively impacting the environment and consumers.
Degradation of soil nutrient
The soil naturally contains nutrients and other beneficial organisms. Crop diversity enables insect and soil microbe biodiversity. Due to the practice of planting only one type of crop, monoculture eliminates all good functions of the soil. Resulting, beneficial insects and soil microorganisms are depleted.
Increase in the use of crop protection products
With the elimination of soil nutrients that were naturally present, the plant is vulnerable to pests and diseases. In this scenario, the farmer needs to protect its crops by increasing the use of crop protection products, that may compromise the quality of the produce.
Increased water usage
Practicing monoculture means that the topsoil cover will be harvested all at the same time, in this process it loses a lot of elements that could help in retaining moisture. Contemporary monoculture agricultural practices, therefore, require vast amounts of water to irrigate the crops.
While all agricultural practices have both pros and cons to it. Farmers who are best informed about their crop should adopt monoculture or polyculture depending on the crops that they decide to grow. In modern context, any agricultural practice is a success when the traditional agricultural practices are mixed with new technologies and innovations. All stakeholders are working towards the same goal of feeding the world and therefore, farmers need to be open minded to adopt, implement and practice new innovations. Higher yield of the produce using sustainable means is the goal of modern agriculture.