Agricultural yields are higher with polyculture than with monoculture.
While modern agriculture promotes monoculture on the same plot, French researchers from the Centre for functional and evolutionary ecology (CEFE-CNRS/Université de Montpellier) and Inra from Lusignan have just shown that the polycultures have a better yield than monoculture, especially in drought conditions. The results are published in the journal Nature Plants.
The study, which lasted a year and a half, focused on 5 forage plants, with monoculture plots and others associating the 5 plants. The genetic diversity was also varied by the researchers. Some plots have been irrigated and others weren’t irrigated, to check the behavior of plants in a drought situation.
In irrigation, the yield of mixed-plant plots was greater than the monoculture plants of 200 grams per m2, or 2 tons per hectare. In a drought situation, the difference has been increased to 8 tons per hectare. The yield of plots containing ten different genotypes of the same species was more stable than those with a single genotype.
This study suggests that biodiversity, such as permaculture practice, is more interesting to improve yields than the current model.