Specializing in one crop throughout the farm, the farmer can optimize the processes as the seeds, chemical fertilizers, water requirement, pest control and harvesting methods would be … And the mechanization of agriculture is the reason a majority of the population in developed countries do not still work on a farm. This is a pretty common refrain from the anti-GMO camp, and also from many folks who are just not big fans of conventional agriculture. However, acres and acres of their crop of choice spells for disaster. For this reason, herbicides and pesticides are often used on top of these fertilizers. In fact, at least 40 percent of the world’s grain goes towards livestock. The main technique is to replant the very same crop species in the very same field, with no other type of plant whatsoever. To paraphrase Churchill, my opinion is that monoculture is indeed the worst possible way to grow crops, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time. For those who haven’t, you may wonder “What is monocropping?” Planting monoculture crops may seem an easy method of gardening but, in fact, the adverse effects of monocropping can lead to a … Increased use of Pesticides and Herbicides. Due to the technological advances from perfecting monocultures, crops are able to grow in scenarios where naturally they would have struggled. The future of our food is not looking so hot thanks to the prevalence of monoculture agriculture. Afterwards, the use of these chemical products damages the land by infiltrating itself in the soil and, at times, is dragged by rainwater into the nearest body of water. An example of the devastation monocultural farming can cause is the corn blight of 1970 which ruined more than 15 percent of corn crops in North America. FDA Seeks Public Comments on Regulation of Genetically Altered Animals, New US Seafood Rule Shows Global Trade and Conservation Can Work Together. It has been my experience that most who criticize monoculture production don’t usually provide many details about why monoculture is a problem. Andrew Kniss 10 Meaty Vegan Entrees for Your Holiday Dinner! How Saving Wildlife Benefits Humans – In Ways We Really Need, 5 Ways Plastic Pollution Impacts Animals on Land, How Factory Farming Creates Air Pollution, Plant-Based Immune System Boosters to Keep You Healthy During the Holidays, Reducing Muscle Stiffness with Plant-Based Foods, How to Combat Autumn Anxiety with Plant-Based Mood Enhancers. What is a monoculture you ask? Depending on where this land and water are located, wildlife that drink from it end up consuming these harsh killers and any life that made the body of water its habitat is affected – at times heavily – by the same products. There goes our crucial pollinators! It appears here by permission of the author. The papayas were always fine, too. And more importantly, they rarely provide specific, practical suggestions for improvement. What Would It Take to Feed the Entire Human Population with Nothing but Mycoprotein? And public investment in agricultural research has stagnated or declined in the last decade. As is often the case in agriculture, the problems attributed to monoculture are far more nuanced and complex than most critics realize. If you do not rotate between nitrogen fixing plants and non-nitrogen fixing plants, the soil will be depleted of this vital nutrient. Permaculture is effectively a reversal in that it promotes biodiversity and the implantation of a diverse range of crops. In turn, runoff pollution is very prevalent in waterways near monoculture fields. Permaculture, however, strives to work with nature. I suppose one could argue that Pollan is correct when he says “Monoculture is at the root of virtually every problem that bedevils the modern farmer,” but only because that is how modern farmers grow crops. Learn how your comment data is processed. One particular insect suffering as a consequence of monoculture is the bee. If this body of water is a lake or river used for a city’s drinking water, then humans know an increase in cancer rates in that area. I've heard that monocultures are no-good, but this article is eye opening! Encourages high use of fertilizers. The main technique is to replant the very same crop species in the very same field, with no other type of plant whatsoever. I’ve seen relatively undisturbed habitats in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming that contain almost no plants other than greasewood (Sarcobatus vermiculatus). * Pesticides, fertilizers and other technology used are not only expensive, it kills wildlife and is harmful to the environment. She is also an advocate of the health benefits and the social justice advantages of becoming vegan. The economic potential and environmental influence of farming activities correlates with the practice’s farmers choose to follow. Mono: single + culture: the tilling of the land. Simply put a monoculture is a single crop repeatedly grown on the same land. Monoculture farming, however, has some disadvantages you can’t ignore. Cozy Pumpkin Porridge [Vegan, Gluten-Free], Pomegranate Beet Citrus Smoothie With Mint and Ginger [Vegan]. Pollan was referring to a Grist article by Nathanael Johnson, which was a response to Amy Harmon’s excellent piece in the New York Times. Commercial modern agriculture has the primary aim of increasing yields and profits by cultivating one distinct crop. In the case of bees, pesticides have been named as the number one cause of bee colony collapse. Why do a lot of them not do the traditional crop rotation these days? Notably, Pollan’s definition of monoculture also goes beyond the spatial scale and incorporates the temporal scale (“year after year”). Disease Susceptibility. But this is exactly what we see in crop production in most regions also; within a particular field there may only be a single crop, but if you zoom out, you see different crops, nearby riparian areas, pastures, etc. And then polyculture would be at the root of virtually every problem farmers faced. So I’m in favor of a genuine discussion about the problems commonly attributed to monoculture production. The other two arguments are more dangerous, though, because they presume that a monoculture is bad only because of who is in charge of it, not because it is a monoculture. How much “given area” or “land” is required before we call it a monoculture? And riparian areas where only common reed is present. But long-term field research like this is expensive. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/monoculture-c As the material is not organic it can cause great harm to the soil. So if you grow a single crop, you are growing a monoculture. Patent Pending. ( Log Out /  We Know Plastic Poses a Threat to Marine Life – But Did You Know This Material Does Too? The quantity of food produced is, of course, impacted by this: we can produce less and of lesser quality this way. Crop rotation requires more knowledge of the land before putting the system in place. Vote if you like my article, please. Furthermore, using pesticides and herbicides in the same field can have the same effect – the soil becomes used to it, thus needing other types or stronger insect and weed killers. This is the basis of large-scale farm corporations that have been trying to control our food sources for decades. The practice of crop rotation will help soil quality and pest resistance as different crops will be grown. So is monoculture evil as Pollan says? Having only one crop in the field increases our ability to mechanize planting, weeding, and harvest. Organic consists of using only natural pesticides and crop rotations, and permaculture tries to mimic the natural environment that these plants typically grew in before human intervention, which means that the plant will grow to its full potential by cultivating it in its preferred environment. And “simple” solutions like diverse crop rotations, polyculture, or use of biotech crops may solve some issues associated with monoculture, but they will exacerbate others issues. Is there room for improvement? Put them together, and it is pretty clear that a monoculture is the tilling of the land for a single crop. It takes years for these crops to become productive, and they are extremely costly to establish. In the U.S., it is estimated that more than 25 percent of the drinking water wells contain nitrate levels above the 45 parts per million safety standard. The cultivating of monocultures is very much a modern method of agricultural production. It is VERY short-sighted when you know this. SnakeWitch is a firm believer that veganism is an important way to help reduce pollution around the world. ( Log Out /  Again, this is an issue of scale; if you zoom in to an acre, there is a naturally-occurring monoculture. What’s the  big problem with monocultures? Panels of particular relevance to this topic discussed include ‘ROI in Precision Ag’ and ‘Ag’s Profitable Sustainability’. Very simply, a field of identical plants will be exquisitely vulnerable to insects, weeds and disease. The problem with this term is the scale. Even grass will refuse to grow there, and the farm needs to move to another location. The combined cropland in the United States covers a whopping 442 million acres! Challenge Advisory has sourced over 40 expert speakers in the Ag 4.0 workshop who will debate issues such as this which effect every modern farmer today.


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