Reduced Energy

The impact of perennial polycultures on energy use would primarily be in developed countries where food production now accounts for 17 percent of all energy use (though only 2 to 5 percent is actually consumed on the farm), but it is worth at least a brief mention here. Since the early 20th century, the amount of energy required per hectare of corn production, for example, has increased over tenfold.19 Of the energy used in the food production system, the large amounts of energy that are used...

What Makes Perennial Polycultures Different

Many of the fruits and nuts we eat come from perennial plants and trees. Further, polycultures are common in modern industrial farming and particularly common in small, subsistence agriculture around the world. Farmers have even combined perennial crops (usually trees) with annual polycultures. In virtually all cases, however, there is a period during which there is, at best, only partial ground cover. Perennial polycultures with mixed intercropping have continual ground cover throughout the...

Why Hasnt Anybody Tried This Before

If perennial polycultures are such a good idea, why haven't they been developed before now Certainly the polyculture part has been explored and developed to some extent. One source suggests that humans have produced food from integrated polycultures for approximately 98.5 of farming history.26 Modern farmers use a wide variety of techniques today that emulate aspects of a perennial polyculture. They use crop rotations to reduce the need for pest control and fertilizer use cover crops to improve...

What Is the Primary Promise of Perennial Polyculture Farming

The primary promise of perennial polyculture farming is most directly associated with reversing environmental degradation and redressing the loss of biodiversity. The promise of perennial polyculture farming in other areas such as reducing worldwide hunger and malnutrition, reducing (particularly fossil fuel) energy use, and improving the health and education of women and children is more indirect and will be addressed in a separate section. A'tas in which a lea 30 of ihe landscape is culliva...

Isnt the Concept Too Simplistic

Isn't it a bit far-fetched to think that something so simple could have such a significant effect Perhaps. On the other hand, just because it is simple is not a good reason to dismiss it out of hand. To see this, one has only to look at the most recent agricultural revolution the so-called Green Revolution. That revolution began in 1943 when the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican government established the Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program to improve the agricultural output...

About the RAND Pardee Center

Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition was established in 2001 through a gift from Frederick S. Pardee. The RAND Pardee Center seeks to enhance the overall future quality and condition of human life by improving longer-range global policy and long-term policy analysis. In carrying out this mission, the center concentrates on five broad areas Developing new methodologies, or refining existing ones, to improve thinking about the...

What Is the Evidence That Perennial Polyculture Farming Could Work

There is research being conducted on perennial polycultures at The Land Institute and The Rodale Institute.30 The Land Institute, for example, is experimenting with polycultures involving warm-season grasses (such as eastern gamagrass), cool-season grasses (such as mammoth wild rye), legumes (such as Illinois bundleflower and wild senna), and composites (such as Maximilian sunflower) all growing together in mixed intercropping. To answer this question more specifically, it is useful to replace...

Improved Health and Education

Industrial agriculture, with its pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc., contributes to a growing worldwide health problem among agricultural workers and others. Even though industrial agriculture is disproportionately pursued in developed countries, the World Health Organization estimates that there are as many as one million serious unintentional pesticide poisonings each year worldwide, and many of these are in developing countries.21 Clearly, a reduction in pesticides, herbicides, etc....

Effects on the Environment

The most direct desired effect of perennial polyculture farming is to address many of the environmental problems that are evident in today's annual monoculture approach. These include soil erosion and degradation, water depletion, and water contamination from fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. In thinking about replacing current annual, monoculture farming with perennial polyculture farming, it is important to understand what areas of the world are currently under cultivation. Figure 2...