Initially, the term monocultives refers to agricultural systems that cultivate the land with a single plant species such as tea and coffee (a form of agriculture based on the planting of a single type of crop in the field). This method is found on large plantations and is the pattern in much of large-scale commercial agriculture in many parts of the world. In contrast, the polyculture method implies that two or more plant species are grown in the same field at the same time.
Now, however, what are the risks of monocultives and what impact does it have on the soil? Environmental damage includes soil salinization, loss of natural fertility, nutrient leaching, greenhouse gas emissions, and contamination of water bodies. Some of the effects caused by monocultives agriculture are discussed below.
1.1. Decrease in biodiversity
Among some of the most striking disadvantages of monocultives agriculture is the lack and deprivation of adaptability or biological diversity, i.e., that it breaks with the natural idea of wild ecosystems which are diverse and plural, granted that, forms and substances are given for their articulation, in the same way, the variety of biological species found in an area, tells us that the ecosystems will be healthier and richer. Specifically, the diversity of plants and animals in an environment helps with the control and excessive proliferation of pests, plant diseases, and negative exposures caused by the variation of the natural stability of soils.
1.2. Pest Management
Granted that, the diversity of plants and animals in an environment favors pest management, farmers practicing monocultuives are subjected to difficulties in controlling pests in their fields. Pests are more prolific on farmland that has only one type of crop. This increase in pests benefits from the ease of food in one place, thus encouraging more reproduction. Therefore, polycultures are a genetic diversity of plants that naturally repel pests, thanks to the natural barrier produced by some plants in the crop field.
1.3. Use of pesticides
Pesticides are chemical, biological, and natural products used to exterminate, repel, attract, regulate or interrupt the growth of living beings considered pests. Pests are classified among insects, weeds, mammals, bacteria, and fungi that attack crops. Of course, monocultivesis more likely to be affected by pests that spread throughout the territory effectively due to its reduced biodiversity, incidentally, farmers are forced to apply more significant amounts of pesticides and herbicides for crop protection, of course, within the effects of these chemicals is the spread through the soil, producing the contamination in the soil and water sources.
1.4. Decrease in soil fertility
The degradation and loss of fertility are linked to the decrease in the amount of organic matter and the detriment of soil quality. One of the reasons for the reduction of fertility is attributed to the monocultives agricultural system that alters the natural balance, namely, the cultivation of a single plant species in the same territory exhausts and consumes the nutrients and organic matter that are necessary for soil fertility; this is called soil depletion by monoculture.
1.5. Fertilizer use
In view of the fact that the soil is quite depleted, and poor in nutrients and organic matter, farmers are forced to increase the intensive use of fertilizers on monocultives farms, since the use of only one type of plant on the same land depletes the soil of its organic biodiversity. Moreover, using artificial nutrients negatively impacts the natural composition of soil and ecosystems, including poisoning.
1.6. Excessive water use
In this case, it is evident that imbalances are generated by a single type of root in the soil since the soil loses its capacity to maintain its structure around the plants, which causes erosion and loss of water retention. To address this defect generated in the soil, agriculture requires an excessive demand for resources by applying large amounts of water, demanding more of the vital resource from the aquifers.
In summary, monocultives always cause these environmental problems: deforestation, loss of biodiversity and damage to ecosystems, contamination of land and water due to excessive and incorrect fertilization and pesticide treatment, as well as soil erosion.