POLYCULTURE:
MORE YIELD. MORE BIODIVERSITY. AND ALSO MUCH MORE WORK.

"We are losing nature like never before because of unsustainable human activities.

The global population of wild species has fallen by 60% over the last 40 years.

1 million species are at risk of extinction."

EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030
(can we get some quote from a more credible source in the scene, the EU is funding traditional agriculture ...)

 

Polyculture is a series of agricultural practices that rely on biodiversity to sustainably grow food. By designing fields based on ecological principles, these techniques bring together multiple species of plants and animals to the same area to ensure natural resilience and high land productivity.

 
Polyculture fields are carefully arranged to allow species to support each other in order to provide more with less. The result is a balanced and sustainable agricultural land, capable of resisting natural threats while delivering larger amounts of food with reduced amounts or no inputs.

 

Unlike monocultures, such diverse and dynamic ecosystems help to avoid species extinction and prevent desertification, besides acting as an important contributor to carbon sequestration. Polyculture principles are also largely used in regenerative agriculture to recover severely degraded areas.

(I would add an infographics here to make it more tangible - could you provide a sketch and copy and Almu then will do the graphics?)

KEY POLYCULTURE FACTS

  • 22% more yield on average than monoculture systems - SOURCE

  • 4x more useful insects (better would be 300% more insect species or ...) per square meter than monoculture fields - SOURCE

  • 44% less fertilizer than an equivalent monocultural production - SOURCE (I would take this one out, that is still too much.)

  • Carbon sequestration, lower carbon footprint - SOURCE (find a better one)

POLYCULTURE METHODS

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Key polyculture facts

22% more yield

per hectare than monoculture systems

Source: Yu, Yang, et al. "Temporal niche differentiation increases the land equivalent ratio of annual intercrops: a meta-analysis." Field Crops Research 184 (2015): 133-144.

44% less fertilizer
44% less fertilizer

than an equivalent monocultural production

Source: Kay, Sonja, et al. "Agroforestry creates carbon sinks whilst enhancing the environment in agricultural landscapes in Europe." Land Use Policy 83 (2019): 581-593.​​

300% more insects

per square meter than monoculture fields

Source: De Boo, Marion. "Mixed cropping works better." Wageningen World 2 (2017): 34-39.

Lower carbon footprint

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Source: Xu, Zhan, et al. "Intercropping maize and soybean increases efficiency of land and fertilizer nitrogen use; A meta-analysis." Field Crops Research 246 (2020): 107661.

Biodiversity

Different species of plants provide food, shelter & for a wide spectrum of insects, birds and other animals.

Resource utilization

Multiple layers of plants can make full use of solar radiation and keep the soil moisture, driving yields up.

Natural resilience

Keeping the ground covered the hole year helps to maintain the natural balance of the land and prevents soil erosion.

STRIPCROPPING

 

It consists of strips (set of rows, usually from 3m to 12m) of different plants growing simultaneously side by side on the field. It's precisely designed to accommodate traditional machinery.

 

Learn more >>

Stripcropping_1.jpg

INTERCROPPING

 

This design offers several ways of

positioning two or more crops in interspersed rows. In row-intercropping plants grow 

together, while in relay-intercropping plants share the field during part of their life cycle.

 

Learn more >>

PIXELCROPPING 

 

In pixel plots multiple plants grow 

in complex arrangements in which individual species are allocated to small squares, or pixels and

surrounded by other species.

 

Learn more >>

Stripcropping_1.jpg
agroforestry.jpg

AGROFORESTRY

 

It combines perennials (e.g fruit

trees and shrubs) and annual crops

and/or pasture on the same land.

Crops are usually cultivated in

strips between rows of trees.

Learn more >>

PERMACULTURE

 

Its designs are based on principles

of "whole system thinking". 

It mixes a large variety of species

in colorful gardens, similarly to natural ecosystems.

 

Learn more >>

Perma.jpg

WHY DON'T ALL FARMERS USE IT THEN?

Polyculture for large-scale agriculture is a relatively new approach. 

Only recently research has started to give more attention to how (to establish polyculture farming. It is hard work to setup polycultures at a larger scale.)

It is not a surprise that there are still questions to be answered:

  • What is the optimal species combination and field layout?

  • (How can we use machinery to seed and harvest a polyculture setup)
    What are the steps for smooth transition from monoculture to polyculture?
    How to apply available machinery and account for transition costs?

  • How to market polyculture products?

  • Can it be economically viable?

Motivated by the need to find more sustainable ways, (many) farmers are bravely taking the initiative, experimenting and learning (and having success)!

The adoption of polyculture techniques has been slow (until now), but (it needs) and it can be accelerated, and that's where we come into play!

We are determined to shake the industry and prove that it is possible to grow large amounts of food sustainably and economically. (And we need your support.)

Read more about OUR GOAL and how we will get there.