Systems polycultures They are a type of agriculture that consists of growing different species of plants on the same surface of land, in such close proximity that the advantages of these simultaneous crops are perceived. For example: onion with tomato, garlic with leeks, spinach with cabbage.
Polyculture is a agriculture tool in which annual crops can be complemented with other annuals, annuals with perennials or between perennial crops. In the same way, the components of a polyculture can be sown on the same date or on different dates, with potentially simultaneous harvests or at intervals.
Any simultaneous combination of agricultural processes is considered a polyculture. However, according to the implications in each of the crops, they are classified as follows:
- Amensalistic polyculture. The effect is negative for one species and neutral for the other.
- Commensalistic polyculture. The effect is positive for one species and neutral for the other.
- Monopolistic polyculture. The effect is positive for one species and negative for the other. Here the total net effect is analyzed to verify the suitability of the system.
- Inhibitory polyculture. The interaction between the crops generates negative effects for both. These polycultures are discarded for complementary planting.
Research in polyculture was deepened after the discovery of many of its advantages.
One of the main reasons that motivate the adoption of polycultures is that with them a higher yield is obtained from the sowing area: in places where socioeconomic conditions are subject to the amount of land that can be weed, the advantages of polyculture are obvious.
In another sense, polyculture has a spatial advantage which is that it can be quantified as a percentage, since what is harvested in one hectare of a polyculture is equal to what can be harvested in the sum of two amounts of hectares of monoculture: the difference between these values will be the spatial advantage of the polyculture , which can range from 20% to 150%.
The variability in production also has an advantage insofar as it seeks to minimize the risks of losing the total harvest: this is one of the reasons why the use of polyculture is more common in the countries. on process of development.
The choice of a polyculture system, however, cannot be made in any way. Different aspects of agriculture must be taken into account, such as:
- The duration of the vegetative cycle (in such a way that the gain of the total system performance is obtained),
- The growth habit (in order to combine tall and short carriages),
- The shapes of the leaves (combining wide and narrow leaves, in order to let in light),
- Biological efficiency (efficient use of the land, mentioned with the equivalences).
Many agricultural engineers are dedicated to studying the effects of polyculture systems on insect pests, plant pathogens, and weeds.
Examples of polyculture systems
The following examples synthesize good polyculture cases, that is, associations that are positive for this agricultural practice.
- Forage grasses with corn.
- Onion with tomato.
- Garlic with leeks.
- Cabbage with celery.
- Yuca with tomato.
- Sweet potato, simultaneously with sunflower.
- Pastures with nuts and fruits.
- Cucumber with lettuce.
- Spinach with cabbage.
- Carrot with leek, also with onions.
- Tomato with leek.
- Beetroot with onion.
- Pastures with legumes, for the production of forage.
- Legumes with barley.
- Tomato with cabbage.
- Strawberries with spinach.
- Soybeans with a growing wheat crop.
- Peas in combination with small grains.
- Legumes with wheat.
- Pumpkin with corn.