Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Polycultures in Modern Ag?

The September issue of CSA news has a nice (open access) article entitled: "Do polycultures have a role in modern agriculture?"

Some key caveats:
  • While diverse plant mixtures have been associated with many benefits, high biomass yield (i.e. what farmers get paid for) is usually not one of them.
  • It's very difficult to maintain complex plant mixtures - usually a single species will come to dominate.
  • Our crop monocultures represent those crops that are best adapted to a given region.
  • Establishing, maintaing and harvesting polycultures will require significant effort, risk, investments and training for farmers.
They conclude that polycultures are intriguing but definitely require more (agronomically realistic) research. 

Thoughts?

3 comments:

  1. It is open access. thanks for the link. https://www.crops.org/files/publications/csa-news/polycultures-in-modern-agriculture.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  2. Commercial polycultures are pretty common in the tropics. Year-round overhead sunlight does help though...

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