Definition: The practice of cultivating or exploiting more than one crop or kind of animal at the same time.
Polyculture in the Forest Garden:
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 a time.
Advantages of polyculture:
Diversified income: Farmers can harvest different crops throughout the year to ensure steady income rather than relying on 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 that crop. By choosing to plant a diversity of crops, a farmer can extract different profiles of nutrients for different crops.
Increased resilience and pest control: If a farmer is planting only one crop in their field, and that crop is attacked by pests or disease, they may lose their entire season’s harvest. Polyculture, on the other hand, serves as a safety net for potential pest problems. Even if a farmer loses one crop to a pest, they still have others to rely on. The distribution of different crops across the landscape can also mitigate pest damage as certain crops can repel pests while others can attract pest predators or even act as a physical barrier against the spread of pests and disease.