Written by Matt DiLeo
The September issue of CSA news has a nice (open access) article entitled: “Do polycultures have a role in modern agriculture?”
Some key caveats:
* While diverse plant mixtures have been associated with many benefits, high biomass yield (i.e. what farmers get paid for) is usually not one of them.
* It’s very difficult to maintain complex plant mixtures – usually a single species will come to dominate.
* Our crop monocultures represent those crops that are best adapted to a given region.
* Establishing, maintaing and harvesting polycultures will require significant effort, risk, investments and training for farmers.
They conclude that polycultures are intriguing but definitely require more (agronomically realistic) research.
Written by Guest Expert
Matt DiLeo has a PhD in Plant Pathology from UC, Davis. During his postdoctoral research at Boyce Thompson Institute, he researched unintentional effects of genetic engineering. Matt builds R&D teams and biotech platforms: genome editing, gene discovery, microbials, and controlled environment agriculture.