Monocropping is the practice of growing one crop on the same land year after year. This technique has obvious advantages for farmers, they can grow large quantities of their most profitable crop, using the same machinery, seeds, pesticides and methods. But, sadly this method of farming leaves the soil depleted of nutrients, forcing farmers to use chemical fertilisers to sustain their yield.
Crop rotation has long been encourage as a method to promote soil health and break pest and disease cycles. Many gardeners will be familiar with the ‘Dig for Victory’ wartime planting chart, which ensures a maximum yield of seasonal products from a small garden or allotment on a 3 yearly crop rotation plan; for farmers to do this at scale requires time and initial financial investment.
Organisations like Agroforestry Regeneration Communities are addressing the challenges facing the small holder farmers (which produce over 60% of the world’s food) using Agroforestry, a method of growing food and trees together to increase biodiversity. With projects in Guatemala and East Africa, they promote nature-based farming practices, through the creation of food forests, which are both socially and economically viable.
Much needs to change in the global agricultural industry to meet our net zero targets (don’t get me started on food miles!), but tried and tested techniques do exist that can help us. If farmers are given the right financial support or incentives, change will come quickly.
It’s clear that diversity is needed for healthy ecosystems and healthy diets. So, what can we as individuals do? It’s a familiar mantra: buy local, seasonal, organic products where possible. It can be hard to make the right choices when faced with a huge array of unseasonal offering online and in store. But, our choices really do have an impact – supermarkets won’t stock what we don’t buy.