What is the problem with the current model of monoculture-based agriculture? The research done on improvement of agricultural practices and environmentally friendly methods has mainly focused on one single plant or crop, adapting its properties to the needs of the human users, or adapting the environment to the requirements of the crops. While this has proven efficient, some environmental concerns and economical limitations motivate the search for other improvement areas. Therefore, many suggestions are drawn, aiming at reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture which is also one of the biggest water consumer and a cause of several health issues.
What is the limitation of the already existing alternative models, in particular pluricultures?
The best-known model pictured as alternative is organic farming, which focuses on the environmental impact of pesticides and their impact on human health. While is shows real effect on the quality of the crops produces, it is often criticized for its lower yield and its lower capacity to resist pests. Furthermore, it does not offer in this form a real way out from the industrial concept, therefore also depending on parallel energy- and technology chains. Additionally, the issue about the competing space of crops is not addressed.
On the other hand, some promising research has been done on intercropping, agroforestry and similar biomimicry-based practices. The potential of biomimicry, in this case of synergetic interactions between plants and with other symbiotic organisms is often overseen, neglected or limited to very few applications in the organic agriculture or aesthetical, private gardening.
However, the limited knowledge or reproducibility, the idea of stepping out of a well-established production chain organized on monoculture, the time consumption of new trials and failures, with the risk of harvest losses and its accompanying human consequences have put a brake to the application of plant grouping into agricultural methods.