An interesting study in the United States published in Nature Food reveals that extensive agriculture can be combined with the biodiversity of local landscapes without affecting productivity. This unique work focused on three key crops for North Americans (corn, wheat and soybeans) and was evaluated at the national level. Amazing results were found:

  • The portions of land cultivated with cover varieties increased their productivity by 12% in corn and 15% in wheat.
  • In general, these arable landscapes produce 17-18 bushels per acre more than monocultures without cover crops also for corn and wheat.
  • Crop structure matters. The best results of all were obtained when crops were more diverse and had more types of structural configurations. In this case, the increase in productivity was 20%.

Overall, these results show that polycultures are a sustainable option for agriculture, fulfilling ethos, reconnection and emulation of nature through biomimicry.  Each crop within the plot confers beneficial characteristics and services to the ecosystem and  the soil Additionally, this generates less dependence on pesticides and fertilizers, reducing operating costs and carbon footprint.

Source: Anthropocene Magazine 

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