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Farming and Agriculture: Polyculture, Monoculture and Perennial Plants

Polyculture of Different Crops

Aerial view of polyculture fields

Aerial view of polyculture fields

What is Polyculture?

Polyculture, an approach to farming that relies on planting an assortment of different crops in the same area, and may soon change the way we think about agriculture on the Midwestern prairie. Polyculture farm involves mimicking the natural conditions of the habitat. By doing this we will be preventing many problems we have with monoculture and have added benefits. The mixture of perennials on the farm can be used as sources of food cattle and humans.

A New Agricultural Goal

A new agricultural goal is to raise food by replicating the natural conditions of the prairie, on the farm. This can be done by growing different food crops in one area/field. The crops can include:

  • perennial grasses
  • legumes
  • sunflowers
  • grain crops
  • plants that provide natural insecticides

This perennial polyculture can be blended with modern monoculture, the cultivation of a single crop, to reduce its harmful environmental effects. A new agricultural goal is to raise food by replicating the natural conditions of the prairie, and applying it the the farm

Perennial Crop


Eastern Gamma Grass


Perennial Plants

The plants are perennial, which means they do not have to be replanted, and this provides many benefits. To begin with, it reduces soil erosion because the unplowed soil is not exposed to the wind and rain, so it can not wash away as easily. Next, it reduces pollution that is caused by chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Lastly, it reduces the need for irrigation because perennial plants have deep roots that maintain more water than annual plants. Perennial plants provide a multitude of benefits because they never have to be replanted. This means a lot less work on the farm.

The perennials grown in these parts could also be used as important sources of food. Eastern gamma grass and mammoth wildrye are a warm and cool season grass, respectively. The Eastern gamma grass provides three times as much protein as corn and twice as much wheat. Mammoth wildrye is related to wheat, barley, and rye. The Illinois bundleflower produces nitrogen that can enrich the soil and whose seeds can be used as livestock feed. The Maximilian sunflower produces seeds which contain as much protein as soybeans. They can be used as a very good source of food on the farms!

Informative Talk on Polyculture

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-Thank you!


Sage Williams on May 02, 2010:

I have never heard of, "Polyculture", thanks for sharing. Interesting topic, thanks for sharing. I love the aerial view of the crops. It looks really neat.


Carolyn on April 30, 2010:

Check out the work done by The Land Institute on their website, They've been working on perfecting this for over 30 years! Incredible!

Katie McMurray from Ohio on April 29, 2010:

What a fascinating alternative and agriculture methods. Thanks for sharing this information. Peace :)

Maria on April 29, 2010:

very interesting article.

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