November 27, 2019
Definition: The agricultural practice of growing a single crop or plant species in a farming system. Also referred to as monocropping.
After several harvests, monoculture farming degrades the quality of the land and depletes soil of nutrients. As the quality of the land erodes, monoculture systems rely on harsh chemical herbicides and pesticides to enhance crop yields. However, when misused, the application of these chemicals can pollute groundwater and surface water as well as negatively impact soil microorganisms.
In the Forest Garden: TREES trains farmers to stop practicing monoculture and transform their single-crop fields into Forest Gardens. As an alternative to monoculture, TREES farmers are encouraged to practice polyculture; growing a variety of trees and crops in the same area at the same time.
In year two of the four year program, farmers are taught the benefit of diversifying their fields with a vegetable and fruit tree portfolio that meets their family’s nutritional needs and increases market opportunities.
Did You Know? In monoculture systems, farmers depend on a single crop to provide them with enough food and income to survive until the next harvest. This dependency drives farmers to practice slashing and burning; clearing all vegetation on their fields every year and releasing carbon into the atmosphere in the process. Furthermore, when their crop fails — due to pest infestation, crop disease, bad quality seeds, drought or natural disaster — farmers are left devastated, without means to support their families.