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. 



  1. It is open access. thanks for the link.

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



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