Monoculture is a widespread practice on farms of certain crops. At a time when the demand for low-cost food is increasing, it is logical to think that a plantation system that allows large amounts of food to be obtained at low cost is the ideal option, but the reality is that it is far from being a best practice if we value it from a general perspective.
If you want to learn more about what is monocultureits advantages and disadvantages as well as its consequences, join us in this EcologíaVerde article.
What is monoculture – definition
monoculture It is quite easy to define: these are farms or large plantations in which you work only with the cultivation of a single speciesusing the same techniques and methods on a large scale.
It is a cultivation system that requires little labor, although, on the contrary, it requires more advanced technological means. Monoculture is very advantageous for producers in the short and medium term, since it allows them to obtain great benefits and production from the land, with control methods that are relatively simple to maintain. However, monoculture is very dangerous in the long term, and is now known to be a very problematic practice from an ecological point of viewas degrade the soil and it can create pests that are very resistant and difficult to combat.
The alternative to monoculture is, as is evident, multiculture. By combining different crops that complement each other, either simultaneously or through crop rotationthe land does not deplete its nutrients or lose its microfauna, so the soil maintains its quality and biological diversity.
To encourage this type of practice, the European Union establishes the Greening, a subsidy that is given each year to farmers who work using ecological techniques that respect the planet, being the practice of multi-cropping one of the main ones.
We recommend you discover what crop rotation is, its types and benefits with this other article from EcologíaVerde.
Monoculture: advantages and disadvantages
Next, we present the main advantages and disadvantages of monoculture:
Advantages of monocultures
- The main advantage of monoculture is that it provides very high amounts of production, thus making it possible to meet market demands for the most basic agricultural products, such as main foods. Corn, soybeans, cotton or pine are some examples of monocultures that are very widespread today for this reason.
- Another great advantage is the reduced workforce required to manage a farm of this type, in which very few people are necessary in relation to the extension of the farm.
- By allowing the production of large quantities of product, this also allows its market price to fall, making essential products more affordable.
Disadvantages of monoculture
Monoculture is very dangerous and is a practice that negatively affects the environmentbecause it has effects such as the following:
- Its main disadvantage is the depletion and degradation of the soil, because the repeated cultivation of the same species ends up completely depleting the nutrients required by it. This ends up even causing long-term erosion, and the soil begins to require the periodic addition of fertilizers. In this other post we talk about What is soil degradation.
- Another important disadvantage is that, since they are large areas with only one species, pests and diseases can spread quickly and cause great losses. In addition, the repeated use of the same chemical products to combat them can lead to the creation of resistant pests or diseases, which causes the dependence on chemical products to be even greater. This can lead to the final food product having high concentrations of unwanted chemicals.
- Monoculture also destroys the biological diversity of the area, leading to the disappearance of many microorganisms from the soil, which are very important to protect crops against certain threats. Know here the Causes and the serious consequences of the loss of biodiversity.
Consequences of monoculture
The consequences of monoculture they are, therefore, beneficial for the producer in the short and medium term, but very detrimental to everyone in the long term. The cheapening of the product faces erosion and land degradation that later will not serve to cultivate anything, in addition to the threat of resistant pests and diseases to the most used products, and that will require the use of even more chemicals to be combated.
For all this, it is important to raise awareness and help producers to work with sustainable methods that can provide long-term agricultural products, especially now that the demand for basic foods is increasing due to the growth of the world population.
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