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MonoCulture: Types, Advantages and Disadvantages

This is the practice of incessantly cultivating the same type of crop on the same piece of land year after year. For example sugar cane farming in Bachita, Nigeria

Planting monoculture crops may seem an easy method of gardening but, in fact, the adverse effects of monocropping can lead to a number of issues down the road. Let’s learn more about these effects and the monoculture problems that may result.

What is Monocropping?

Many farmers plant only one crop in the same place year after year. This is what is known as monoculture crops. Supporters claim it is a more profitable way to farm than switching crops around each year.

When a farmer grows only one type of crop he can specialize in that crop and purchase only the tools and machinery needed to deal with that crop. However, those against monocropping claim that it is very hard on the environment and actually less profitable than organic means of farming.

Read Also: The Different Cropping Systems in Africa

Disadvantages of Monoculture

In mono-culture diseases and pests of the particular crop always have their host present, and therefore have the opportunity to build up over the years.

Mono-culture encourage rapid depletion of soil nutrients and destruction of the soil structure.

The risk of crop failure is great and ever present.

Planting the same crop in the same place each year zaps nutrients from the earth and leaves soil weak and unable to support healthy plant growth. Because soil structure and quality is so poor, farmers are forced to use chemical fertilizers to encourage plant growth and fruit production.

These fertilizers, in turn, disrupt the natural makeup of the soil and contribute further to nutrient depletion. Monocropping also creates the spread of pests and diseases, which must be treated with yet more chemicals.

The effects of monocropping on the environment are severe when pesticides and fertilizers make their way into ground water or become airborne, creating pollution.

MonoCulture: Types, Advantages and Disadvantages
MonoCulture Maize Farm

Advantages of Monoculture

The main advantage of mono-culture is that it permits maximum concentration of production effort on a single target crop as well as the following advantages below:

1) Allows specialized production

2) Promotes technological advances in agriculture

3) Increases efficiency

4) Maximizes yields of some produce

5) Is simpler to manage

6) Offers higher earnings.

Related: The Effect of Heat Stress on Animal Productivity

In Summary, A monoculture is the raising of only one crop or product without using the land for other purposes, such as generally occurs in fields under modern agriculture techniques.

In a corn field, for example, corn is the single plant that is expected, tended and tolerated, with all other plants seen as weeds.

While monoculture agriculture represents the vast majority of modern food production, the system has both advantages and disadvantages as discussed about above.

Simplicity

A monoculture field is a very simple system. Soil preparation, irrigation and chemical inputs can all be focused on the needs and preferences of a single plant species. This allows the field to be heavily specialized towards producing maximum yields for a specific crop. Pests and disease can be treated without considering the effects of the treatment on any other plants.

The uniformity of a monoculture field is especially important in harvesting, since the desirable parts of a plant can be easily collected using straightforward techniques which would often be highly destructive to other crops sharing the same field.

Disease and Pests

Monoculture fields are vulnerable to widespread outbreaks of diseases and pests. If a particular disease can infect a single plant in a monoculture field, it can by extension infect every other plant in the field.

An infected plant in this situation is surrounded by nothing but vectors for further infection. Likewise, if a pest is able to attack a plant in a monoculture, it is surrounded by other vulnerable plants, which can lead to a population explosion in short order.

Related: The Concept of Animal Energy Balance in the Physical Environment

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