The Problem with Monoculture (Crop Specialization Farming)


Monoculture, also known as crop specialization, is a type of farming that involves planting and replanting the same crop species year-round and dedicating a designated space to that singular crop species. Intentionally excluding all other types of crops to grow a single species is known as crop specialization to maximize production or profit.

Negatives Associated With Monoculture

Crop specialization strategies have an array of drawbacks. The first disadvantage is that reusing the same soil for a single crop, instead of switching between a variety of crops, increases the chances of plant pathogens and diseases. Both plant pathogens and diseases may adapt to the soil and attack the crop. Over time, the soil quality degrades, making it less fruitful.

The nutrients in crops rely heavily on bacteria that are produced from multiple crops inhabiting the same area, also known as plant-biodiversity. Diversity in plants enhances crop resistance to disease and is an integral part of overall health.

Pesticides & Herbicides

Monoculture impedes plant diversity within a crop space. Without biological diversity in a plot of crops, healthy functionality can be restricted. Species diversity provides more bacteria to defend crops against various pathogens and abiotic stress. Whereas monocultures need pesticides and herbicides to replicate the natural defenses and protection found in more diverse vegetation.

Plant pathogens often cause degraded soil quality over time. In some cases, pesticides and herbicides contaminate soil, crops, and nearby water systems. These toxicants kill insects and weeds but can also be toxic to surrounding organisms- including birds, fish, beneficial insects, and microscopic bacteria. The loss of some organisms could harm the crop ecosystem and the quality of the yields.

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