The concept of monoculture in agriculture refers to the cultivation of a crop over a large area. Monoculture is the norm in most large commercial agriculture in the U.S. and in many parts of the world. Monoculture has certain short-term benefit, primarily in terms of economies of scale, and automate the production process (and thereby reducing labor costs). However, long-term disadvantages of monoculture are huge - this method of farming has many negative effects on the environment, and in addition, these negative effects tend to become amplified over the long term. This article weighs the advantages and disadvantages of this type of unified approach to agriculture, and suggests some alternative practices that are more sustainable, environmentally and economically, and thus superior to all fields in the long run.
Pros and Cons of monoculture agriculture: what are its advantages?
He was immediately obvious that I'm not a fan or advocate monoculture. But there are some very direct and compelling reason for people to engage in this destructive practice. Before we talk about why this practice is so damaging, I think it is useful to first examine its advantages and benefits.
The main advantage of the economies of scale, primarily through automation. Particularly in the U.S., labor costs are very high, so that everything can be reduced by the use of labor in agriculture is very likely to lead to savings. This is often true even when the automation reduces the yield per hectare. For example, if the crop is grown, it can often be obtained in different ways, with varying degrees of automation. Increased automation in the harvest can lead to more waste, such as the grain left in fields, but if it requires less work (as a person driving a machine that covers the ground very quickly, unlike some people drive less, slower machines or Many people harvest crops by hand) to be superior in cost-benefit analysis, even if it results in more waste.
Disadvantages of monoculture farming:
Most interestingly, the lack of monoculture farming is not customizable. Wild ecosystems are diverse and wild populations of plants and animals are diverse. Eco contains many different types, each with a unique adaptation to its environment and the various advantages and disadvantages, in response to changing conditions. Similarly, natural populations of plant or animal species have genetic variability, and each individual plant or animal has slightly different characteristics. In addition, each population and the ecosystem as a whole, is constantly changing, adapting to changing environmental conditions and requirements imposed by other populations and species in the system.
Monoculture smooth this variability, destroying diversity and to replace it, at best, a kind, and at worst (as is standard in the U.S.), one variety - rows and rows of genetically identical crops, to be cloned, reproduced by cuttings or genetically modified seed stocks.
Sensitivity to pests:
Ecological landscape monoculture is that there is an offer of genetically identical plants, against the backdrop of wild pests, including fungi, bacteria, insects and many other organisms. These pests have a wild population each with its own biodiversity, and their populations are constantly changing and adapting crops to be able to eat or benefit from the presence of any crops are grown. Monoculture crops, however, not.changing, and unable to adapt because they have no genetic variability and may not be reproduced naturally. Pests, weeds, also adjusted, sowing in the field of culture, taking advantage of the extra sunlight, like most of monoculture crops provide sufficient light and not making full use of solar energy.
The only way to control pests in this system is to spend more and more energy and resources on chemical control, either through spraying of pesticides, fungicides, bactericides, or crops, or through genetic engineering of crops to enable them to produce these chemicals themselves. But no natural adjustment, pests will eventually develop to resist any of these defenses. Setting the monoculture itself is doomed, because it is against the natural way ecosystems work. This is completely unsustainable in the long run.
Negative impacts of monoculture:
For the cultivation of single crops require increasing levels of chemical inputs, the negative environmental impacts are also continuously increasing. Although people often prefer to use safer chemicals when they exist, and use them in such low concentrations as possible, be safe chemical necessarily will eventually stop working. Many of the chemicals used in commercial agriculture are known to be toxic and / or carcinogenic, or have other negative impacts on people. But even chemicals that are safe for human consumption or exposure can have negative impacts on the environment, for example, news, widely used herbicide, much more toxic to amphibians than men.
Other negative effects of monoculture:
Besides the negative impact on the environment, monoculture also destroys our culture. Monoculture and large factory farming is largely responsible for or associated with the alienation of Americans from farming practices, as well as moving from an economy in which a large portion of people who are directly involved in agriculture to the society in which people see food as an industrial product to be purchased at the store with little idea where it comes from.
In addition to monocultures: how you can help protect the environment and food and farming culture:
Empire of factory farming and large-scale monocultures of happiness is crumbling. You can do your part to learn more about gardening, experimenting with growing some of your own food, even if you only have a small city yard, or even some growing indoors or on a porch or balcony if you have no yard. You can also explore the farmers market with locally grown food, and encourage small, local production of various agricultural practices, using the money to support these farmers. As we returned to the diversification of agriculture, we will become more connected to our food, and help protect our environment as well.