Shopify API - 15. November 21
Monocultures don't work
BIODIVERSITY! BECAUSE MONOCULTURES WILL NOT WORK!
H oman has been practicing agriculture for thousands of years, i.e. raising animals and plants for food. One day, farmers found that selective selection produced desired rearing results. The monoculture emerged. Instead of cultivating a variety of species, as humans have done for most of human history, land is farmed with only a single species.
In the post we talk about some of the problems caused by monoculture farming. It should be noted that it is above all the sum of the things that make the matter critical - and also harmful. We also list some of the benefits of bio-diverse agriculture, as we have explored in our Partnership with YAKUM support financially.
MONOCULTURE, WHAT IS IT?
The term monoculture comes from the words 'monos' (Greek for 'alone') and 'cultura' (Latin for 'cultivation' or 'care'). By definition, “monoculture” means that only one type of crop is grown on the same agricultural land for years. In forestry, these are often spruce or Douglas fir. This is known from local agriculture from corn or various types of grain such as rye. Plantations for coffee, bananas, avocados – and tea are also known from abroad.
Monoculture originally arose out of necessity. It was originally introduced to meet an increased need for food. For example, grain had to be grown in ever greater quantities as a staple food. Instead of promoting mixed culture, i.e. alternating different plant species, monoculture was used.
With industrialization it became more and more common. Although it offers certain advantages and often helps to improve farmers' yields, monoculture cultivation causes great damage - to the local environment and also to the entire world.
THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF MONOCULTURE
Advantages of monoculture:
An advantage of crops in monocultures is considered that the farmer can acquire good specialist knowledge. The machinery for tending and harvesting does not have to be particularly wide either. In addition, monoculture products can achieve better prices in larger quantities. In some areas, it has also been found that under optimal, local climatic conditions, a certain variety grows particularly well on certain soils.
Disadvantages of monoculture:
On the other hand, monocultures damage the soil, deprive animals of their habitat and are also uneconomical. In addition, monocultures require huge amounts of water.
1. Plants grown in monoculture are more susceptible to pest infestation and disease. This requires an increased use of pesticides and chemicals.
2. Pesticides are incredibly harmful to wildlife, the environment and also to humans, as some pesticides wash away when it rains and end up in local waterways.
3. In monocultures, the biological diversity of microorganisms that break down dead organic material and release the nutrients contained is lacking. Plants therefore have relatively few nutrients available. To fix the problem, monoculture farmers need to fertilize their land. Because monoculture disrupts soil chemistry so much, huge amounts of fertilizer are required—making it a problem.
4. Monoculture plants also use only certain nutrients and waste the rest they don't need. The one-sided nutrient depletion of the soil then also increases the need to clear ecosystems for agriculture.
5 . Healthy habitats support a wide variety of vertebrate, plant, tree and insect species, thousands of invertebrates, and other life forms such as fungi and bacteria. This diversity helps to protect the system, all species provide different environmental services. Monocultures lack this diversity. This throws the ecosystem out of balance and makes it vulnerable to overpopulation, for example.
6. Ground covers help reduce the rate of water evaporation. This keeps the soil moist and gives the plants more time to draw water through their roots. Monoculture farms do not use these ground covers. A lot of water in the soil evaporates before the plants can use it. As a result, farmers have to use much larger amounts of water than they traditionally would.
7. The drying out of the soil changes the runoff patterns. This can drain local streams, rivers or wetlands. This not only destroys habitats, but also makes these areas inhospitable to local wildlife.
8th. Machines tend to be better at harvesting large amounts of one crop, while humans are better at harvesting many different species. Monoculture farms use mechanized equipment more often and require a correspondingly large amount of fossil fuels for their work.
All in all, the disadvantages of this widely used form of cultivation clearly outweigh the disadvantages.
BIODIVERSITY AS A (BETTER) ALTERNATIVE
Conversely, from all the disadvantages of monocultures, there are already many reasons and advantages for a bio-diverse rearing of useful plants in mixed cultures.
Plant diversity keeps pests in check: Biodiversity improves the natural defense against pests, the use of pesticides in agriculture can be reduced.
Robustness increases plant productivity: plant families in species-rich meadows use significantly less energy to defend themselves against insects, for example. Since plants on species-rich meadows lack nitrogen, they are also less nutritious for insects. An international team of researchers led by the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research, the University of Leipzig and the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU) came to these conclusions. how increased plant diversity can reduce the negative effects of crop pests .
Biological crop protection with natural predators: Plant diversity has the advantage that there are more herbivorous insects compared to monocultures, but there are also more natural predators. This natural way of controlling pests helps reduce the use of chemical insecticides in agriculture.
Full utilization of soil nutrients: Since each plant species uses different nutrients in the soil differently, the soil is exhausted in equilibrium, in contrast to monoculture. In addition, some plants also put nutrients back into the soil by fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere.
speciation: Biodiversity means genetic diversity. This enables populations to adapt to their environment through mutation and natural selection. Over time, new species can emerge. How resilient a plant thrives depends on its genes and largely depends on the habitat in which the plant lives.
Good yields: Promoting biological diversity while still bringing in good yields - one proves that this is possible Study by the University of Zurich , according to which healthy plant communities even ensure higher yields. That “higher yields with monoculture” a fallacy is, agrees Professor Hans Pretzsch from the Chair of Forest Growth Studies at the Technical University of Munich. He sees monoculture costs and losses that are more than twice as high as the global investments that would have to be made to preserve biodiversity.
Even if the issue of "monoculture" doesn't get as much attention from the media landscape as other "environmental issues," that doesn't mean it's something that should be ignored. Monoculture has its advantages, of course. In the long run, however, the disadvantages outweigh the disadvantages - and the consequences can be significant. If this farming practice is not changed over the next few years, irreparable damage is likely to occur. The loss of biodiversity affects the ecosystems and their services - on which humans depend.
The possibilities to counteract this are there. Farmers, associations, politicians and each and every one of us just have to use them consistently. This could create a lot of improvements in a short time - in terms of diversity but also farmers' income.
What can you as an individual do to solve the grievances of monocultural agriculture? Arguably the best way is to try and avoid buying food that comes from monoculture farms. These include, for example, corn, soybeans and palm oil. And instead to support projects that focus on locality and biodiversity!
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