Polyculture - /pälēkəlCHər/ - noun
Definition: The practice of cultivating or exploiting more than one crop or kind of animal at the same time.
A closer look: Polyculture is considered the opposite of another common agricultural practice known as monoculture. The word “poly” means many and “mono” means one. Polyculture focuses on diversifying the land with a variety of different crops ranging from annual and perennial vegetables to fruit trees and timber trees, whereas monoculture, like its prefix, solely focuses on the cultivation of one crop or type of livestock at one time.
Advantages of polyculture:
Increased Dietary Diversity: Farmers and their families are able to harvest a wider variety of crops to nourish themselves with.
Increased and Diversified Income: Farmers are able to harvest different crops at different times of the year to ensure that they receive income steadily throughout the year rather than with one or two harvests annually.
Increased Overall Health of the Field: If a farmer plants only one crop in his field, over time, the soil will become depleted of the nutrients required to grow a healthy and bountiful yield. By choosing to plant a diversity of crops, a farmer avoids depleting the soil of nutrients.
Increased Resilience and Pest Control: If a farmer is planting only one crop in their field, the crop is more likely to succumb to harmful pests. Polyculture, on the other hand, serves as a safety net for potential pest problems because there is a better chance that some of the crops will survive the pests. The distribution of different crops across the landscape can also mitigate pest damage as certain crops can repel pests while others can act as a physical barrier.