Blog Post #1
The impact monocultures have on our environment
What are monocultures?
In agriculture, monoculture describes the practice of growing only one crop species in a field at a time. Even if a single crop species is replaced by a different one in the next growing season, we still call it monoculture. The reason behind that is that there is only one species of genetically uniform plants present on the field at one time. If you continuously grow the same crop species on the same land year after year, this method is called monocropping or continuous monoculture.
If two or more species are sown together, it is called a polyculture system.
Did you know?
Monoculture is even applied in animal agriculture!
What are the advantages and disadvantages of monoculture?
To give you an insight on how heavily the disadvantages dominate over the advantages, here is a short list for you:
greater yields of some produce
high use of fertilizers
easier to manage
overproduction of commodity crops
dangerous for bees
high risks of harvest loss
fossil fuel dependent
not climate smart
pollutes groundwater supplies
alters the natural ecosystem
large scale resource consumption
Do you get the idea? And the list goes on…
The environmental impact of monocultures
But let us focus on the (very negative) impact monocultures have on our environment.
In monocultures, the crops that are being produced serve commercial purposes. This gives an exploitative aspect to the entire process. Once the harvest is reaped, it is transported long distances to a large number of destinations – mostly international. This substantially increases the number of transport miles and the transportation heavily relies on fossil fuels, for instance oil and gas. And as you know – these are among the main contributors to environmental pollution and the use of fossil fuels is also considered to be one of the main causes of the greenhouse effect.
In addition to this…
…monoculture farming eliminates biological diversity and as we know, the more varied biological species are present in a given area, the stronger and richer the ecosystem of this area is.
… monoculture farming uses up incredible amounts of water – one of our most precious resources. Local sources, such as lakes, rivers and reservoirs, are overused to meet the immediate demand which is an additional negative consequence for ecosystems.
… monocultures promote the usage of fertilizers, since they exhaust the soil by depriving it of its biodiversity – and to fight that, farmers use artificial nutrients that devastate the ecosystem in general.
So… what now?
Yes, monoculture farming does have advantages. But we need to see the bigger picture. Ask yourself this: Are these financial advantages really worth damaging our planet earth permanently?
But what can we, as non-farmers, do against monoculture? It’s quite simple.
First of all, we need to avoid processed foods. Instead of buying commercial goods that destroy our planet, we could for example aim for local food that is labeled as eco-friendly.
Second of all, we could avoid normal grocery shops and instead go to local farmers markets. This is not only much better for the environment, it also supports small businesses – and brings exciting new things to our plate.
Third of all, we could try out seed-saving. If you have a garden, you can take part in creating biodiversity by letting part of your garden go to seed and saving those seeds for future use.
For more Sustainability Tips follow us on our Social Media Platforms!
These are just some small things we can all more or less include in our daily routine – and together, we can take responsibility and start making a change.