The East London Garden Society

Problems of Monocropping

Crops

In the 1940s, the Green Revolution changed agricultural practices. The beginning of the Revolution is often attributed to Norman Borlaug who developed high-yield varieties of wheat enabling Mexico to produce more wheat than was needed by citizens in their country.

Production of wheat and rice from high‐yield varieties had dramatic success in Mexico and India, which on the surface appeared to solve food production issues. However, these new varieties were domesticated varieties bred to respond to fertilisers to increase the yield.

The Green Revolution also reduced the number of species grown. For instance, before high‐yield variety seed, there were 30,000 rice varieties grown in India. Now, there are ten. The homogeneity increased the susceptibility to pests and disease, which then drove the development of pesticides and insecticides.

Farmers unable to afford fertiliser and pesticide experience lower yields with new seed rather than the older strains that had adapted to local conditions, including water supply and pests. These changes led to many farmers planting only one crop year after year, also known as monoculture or monocropping.

This practice has led to poor soil biodiversity, unable to support healthy plant growth. As the soil structure and quality declines, farmers are forced to use more fertiliser, which contributes to further decline in soil quality and nutrient depletion. Monocropping also encourages the spread of pests and disease requiring pesticides for treatment, greatly contributing to groundwater and air pollution.