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Disadvantages and benefits of monocrop agriculture

Disadvantages and benefits of monocropping
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What is monocropping in agriculture?

Are you hearing about monocropping for the first time? Monocrop agriculture is about sowing one crop every year in a similar piece of land, and not choosing to adopt practices such as rotation of other kinds of crops or even choosing to grow several crops on the same field, commonly known as polyculture.

Besides that, in monocropping, some of the common and also popular crops that are always preferred across the globe include:

  • Soybeans
  • Wheat
  • Corn

The above listed are some of the three most planted crops through the monocropping methods.
The techniques for monocropping enable farmers to have regular crops all over their fields. Again, farmers always choose to only grow some of the crops that are profitable alone and use the same seed, same diseases and pest regulation methods, similar machinery, and also similar planting method throughout the whole field which have increased the chances of heightening the entire field profitability.

Farmers who prefer the adoption of monocropping say that it’s a method of farming that results in higher yields as compared to choosing to rotate other crops every year. As much as the claim in regards to profitability may prove to be true, the consequences involved in monocropping will also sooner or later turn out to be very devastating than the benefits in relation to environmental safety and care.

The agricultural and ecological practice of monocrop agriculture

Monocropping and also the Loss of Diversifying in both Culture and Food

Lots of biodiversity across the world happens in areas that are densely populated, and monocropping limits cultural diversity. Besides that, monocropping in terms of economic scale simply proves that very few families undergo lots of financial burdens for those that insist to stay leading to the extinction of many local cultures across the globe. All that limit and reduction in diversity is simply a result of lack and failure to adopt food diversity.

For instance, industrial fish cages or farms found in the West African country of The Gambia consist of polluted rivers and ocean, damaged wild fish stocks, and also denied local fishing communities of their livelihoods and also Gambians of their original diet. Across the globe, 50% of the human diet consists of simply three crops which are wheat, rice, and maize resulting in diet imbalances and malnutrition. Even though monocropping claimed that it leads to profitability and better living, several people across the globe who practice this kind of farming have remained to be among those suffering from food insecurity and add to those experiencing world hunger.

Monocropping and Climate Change

As much as monocropping is practiced it triggers yearly inputs of chemical fertilizers to manage soil depletion. The chemicals used merged together with the yearly plowing using heavy machinery divide and also break down all the soil components that are considered to be the best for healthy crops.

Are you aware that the use of chemical fertilizers and also wasteful irrigation have increased the chances of runoffs that damage water ecosystems and also pollute waterways? Just like a low diverse landscape invites a limited species of birds and also beneficial insects, monocropping similarly makes it difficult to fight harmful pests and diseases and also increases the need for fungicides and pesticides.

Methane emissions a possible greenhouse gas from fertilizer manufacturing are estimated to be 3.5 times higher than the U.S EPA’s estimations of all the methane emissions from all industries all over the United States.

Apart from all those, monocropping also adds to climate change by making it difficult for agricultural systems to adapt to it, hence making them more vulnerable to pest infestations, blights, invasive species, droughts, and extreme weather.

Monocropping disadvantages

Higher yields at reduced costs seem so good and also with the increasing costs and increasing population, it can turn out to be the ultimate solution to combat the increasing food security problems across the globe. However, the long-term and final impacts of monocropping are very dangerous making monoculture farming a threat. Below are some of the long-term effects:

Damage to soil quality

When you choose to only grow one kind of crop on your land, it results in intensive farming across the field. When planting such crops yearly in the same way, triggers depletion of the soil nutrients. The depletion of these soil nutrients more so nitrogen further leads to soil weakness and also the inability to accommodate the healthy growth of crops. Besides nutrient depletion, it also damages the natural soil components of the soil due to the increased use of fertilizers.

Increased use of Fertilizers

It simply means that farmers have to equip the soil with more and more primary nutrients to be capable of growing crops at the same ability. Higher demands of nutrients are done through the use of the increased amount of fertilizers. The fertilizers also have their own impacts on the environment.

Susceptibility to Pests

When a farmer chooses monocropping, then he or she needs to be ready to fight weeds and pests since this farming method is vulnerable to such attacks hence the need for the use of more pesticides to prevent and fight them. This method also simply involves crops that are similar or clones of one another, this means that if it happens that one crop is susceptible to pests, then, others will also act the same way.

Monocropping disadvantages

Monocropping farms are also more than just farms but appear to be home to pests since the kind of food or crops that they eat are grown at a given time and also every year hence attracting more pests. With all that happening, risks of economic loss among farmers that practice monocropping since when one crop was to go bad, then, the entire crops will also be affected resulting in a massive loss of profit in the whole farm due to devastated agricultural production.

More use of Pesticides and herbicides

As detailed above, since monoculture crops have higher chances of getting infested by pests and weeds, then, there will be increased usage of pesticides in such fields. This will also increase the farmer’s budget since pesticides will be used most of the time and in large quantities.

Damage to the Environment

Increased quantities of pesticides and fertilizers used in the fields end up in the groundwater and also flow into rivers leading to water pollution and also getting into the air and polluting the air.

Another major problem that is fueled by monocropping is deforestation as the need for land increases. Statistics have it that from 1970, the Amazon rainforest alone has lost more than 20% of its forest cover through monocropping techniques. There are also claims that there exists a high dependency on fossil fuels that may result in increased environmental problems such as global warming.

Loss of Biodiversity

Planting certain species of crops (monoculture farming) leads to a loss of biodiversity. It also limits the choices of customers since they lack a variety of products to buy.

More Susceptibility to diseases

Since crops grown using the monocropping method are always of a similar gene (same species), their general reaction or resistance to diseases are almost the same. For the above reason, whenever one crop gets affected, there are higher chances of the entire farm getting affected and being taken down by a similar disease.

Lower yields

Those who have embraced monocropping tend to believe that monoculture has more yield as compared to other forms of farming such as polyculture which is not true. According to the latest research conducted, this is not true but just a belief.

Monocrop agriculture benefits

Specialized and Consistent Crop Production

Maximizing one kind of crop across the whole field, the farmer is capable to optimize the processes such as the seeds, water requirement, harvesting methods, and many others similar across the farm. Adopting the above-described method leads to reduced cost of production and higher produce. It will also result in reduced costs of production in monocropping since the seeds, pesticides and even fertilizer will be bought in large quantities or in bulks for the same type of crop. Same crops would also state that the agricultural processes in the entire farm would be specialized and that the farmer would have to find some money for a given type of machinery. This calls for monocropping that is more economically viable for farmers. A group of individuals who are against monoculture farming believes that it leads to lots of environmental problems and is usually less profitable as compared to organic farming.

Crops in-demand

The monocropping method favors crops that are common in the market. Farmers analyze the crops that are commercially in demand and profitable to grow such as wheat.

Perfect match of conditions

Monocrop agriculture can be leveraged to grow a group of crops that are best suited for the local climate and soil conditions of the field. This will maintain good produce for the chosen crop since the growing conditions will be adequately available.

Easy and Simple

It is said that doing the same thing or rather one thing multiple times is easier as compared to doing several things at a go. This simply means that when farmers choose to grow one kind of crop on a piece of land, it is easier and simpler for them to manage than choosing to grow several types of crops in one field.

Polyculture Farming is the main alternative

This is opposite to monoculture since it is a type of agriculture where several species of crops are grown in the same field and at the same time imitate the diversity of plants in nature’s ecosystems. It has also been more common among farmers tracing back all the way to the history of organic farming and conventional farming.

Polyculture Types

Some of the different types of polyculture techniques applied include:

  • Inter-cropping – involves growing more than one crop adjacently, on one field
  • Cover-cropping – this entails growing crops just to cover and conserve the soil

Polyculture farming is more beneficial since it has the ability to combat pests, diseases, and even weeds. This is one of the major reasons why polyculture farming is considered to entail sustainable agriculture.

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