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in agricultural practice, the concentration of one crop in a given area. This is generally associated with the growth of commercial agriculture and of CASH CROPPING, and can be contrasted with mixed farming more characteristic of agriculturalists growing for their own consumption. Whilst monoculture may have benefits for some crops, there may also be disadvantages: certain forms of mixed cropping may control pests and preserve the fertility of the soil, whereas monoculture is generally associated with increased use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers. For this reason monoculture is generally associated with large-scale organizations, such as PLANTATIONS, which can mobilize the resources for the necessary inputs and manage the marketing of the crop. Even then, problems for THIRD WORLD countries resulting from monoculture arise from dependence on a few crops for export earnings which are vulnerable to changes in world prices and demand, over which Third World countries may have little control. See also AGRIBUSINESS.



(1) The only agricultural crop raised in farming.

(2) Long-term, uninterrupted (repeated) cultivation of one species of plants on one sector (field or garden) without crop rotation (alternation of crops). Monoculture depletes the physical properties of the soil and decreases its humus content. In most cases the soil is depleted of a specific nutrient. For example, long-term cultivation of cereal crops on the same land deprives the soil primarily of phosphorus. Sugar beets and potatoes take away potassium, and legumes remove both phosphorus and calcium. In addition, soil erosion and other problems are associated with monoculture. All of these effects reduce yields sharply, usually by 1.5 to 2 times. The use of fertilizers only slows down the process of depletion. Monoculture creates conditions conducive to the spread of weeds, harmful insects, and pathogens associated with a particular crop.

In capitalist countries such as prerevolutionary Russia, the USA, and Canada monoculture was typical of certain farming regions during the initial period of the development of new lands, when a single crop, such as wheat, was planted in the same place for several years in succession. Subsequently, the fields were abandoned for many years. As agriculture became intensive, monoculture declined, and crop rotation was introduced.


Zemledelie, 2nd ed. Edited by S. A. Vorob’ev. Moscow, 1972.


References in periodicals archive ?
First, the GM banana, if adopted, will be grown as large monocultures, like GM Bt cotton, and the banana plantations in the banana republics of Central America.
Indeed, even one of the highly touted examples of agricultural monocultures, the Irish famine of the 1840s, illustrates that monocultures can cause harm only "in the absence of broader economic development, scientific and technological advances, trade, and labor mobility" (emphasis in original).
For what separates today's industrial eater from earlier agricultural societies is our growing dependence on oil to produce, process, and deliver our foods, and our increasing reliance on monoculture crops like corn to provide the calories, coloring, and flavor for the thousands of foodstuffs crammed into our supermarkets.
In contrast, sunflowers grow large rapidly and do well in monocultures.
Additionally, the morphology of weeping lovegrass was atypical of the historic vegetation in the region, and may provide subsequent support for niche partitioning of indigenous small mammals based on microhabitat variation in grassland monocultures.
Such payments have helped establish Chile's burgeoning pulp and board factories at the expense of taxpayers, Fierro charges, leading to massive planting of fast-growing monocultures such as Monterey pine over native hardwoods.
In agriculture, monocultures often enhance the evolution or spread of disease-causing organisms, and crop failures can be devastating.
Profits come from monocultures of high-quality, fast-growing Sitka spruce, managed with short rotations, clearcutting, and replanting.
Plantations and golf courses are highly specialized monocultures that require high levels of what are called "management inputs" costing significant expense, time and effort.
Today western societies depend on monocultures of several staple foods.
Landscapes can be compelled to produce harvests of annual monocultures for years or decades, sometimes centuries, but it requires hauling in nutrients, churning the soil, killing weeds, battling pests, and in many places, irrigating.
Apart from the devastation monocultures like this have on soil and wildlife, this trend is pushing poor farmers, whose survival depends on land to grow food, onto increasingly marginal land where crops struggle to grow.