Farming practices have always evolved as innovative approaches and machinery were introduced to increase crop yields and minimise costs. One very effective way of achieving both was the introduction of monoculture farming.
This meant that only one kind of crop was cultivated on the land as is done in wheat fields, apple orchards and grape vineyards. However, experts are now indicating that despite benefits, this practice might be having counterproductive effects in terms of the fight against climate change and land degradation.
Given how critical addressing these challenges is, it is worth exploring what the advantages and disadvantages of monoculture farming really are.
Advantages Of Monoculture Farming
1. Specialised crop production
Any economist will tell you that specialisation is a good thing as it creates economies of scale that maximise profits and minimise costs. The same principle applies to agriculture. By cultivating the same species, the farmer can optimise his or her operations given that growing requirements, planting, maintenance (including pest control) and harvesting will be the same across the farmed land. This helps result in a greater yield at a lower cost.
2. High efficiency
Monoculture can play to the advantages of the local climate and soil conditions. Crops that are best suited for the land can be planted so that soil and climate specificities such as winds, droughts or a short growing season, don’t impact the yield as much. Again this helps maximise the efficiency of farming processes.
For farmers who breed cattle and other animals, the prospect of increased yields and lower costs is equally appealing, and so monoculture can also be seen there.
What is also appealing for farmers is the apparent simplicity of monoculture.
It is much easier and straightforward to cultivate one kind of crop or breed one type of cattle, in terms of the knowledge and experience needed to do it successfully.