A monoculture is an area in which only one and the same plant grows. They can be found in agriculture, in the forest, or in a garden. The word “mono” comes from Greek and means “alone”. The word “culture” comes from Latin and means “cultivation”. The opposite of a monoculture is a mixed culture.
Monocultures often exist in plantations: large areas are cultivated with palm trees, tea, cotton, or other plants of the same species. Even large fields on which only maize, wheat, rapeseed, sugar beets, or similar uniform plants grow are considered monocultures. In the forest, it is often spruce. In the nurseries, it is often cabbage fields, asparagus fields, carrot fields, strawberry fields, and many others. It is easier to work with machines in it than in a mixed garden.
Monocultures always pull the same fertilizer from the ground. So they are leaching the soil. That doesn’t last long. Monocultures are therefore not sustainable.
Very few different animals live in monocultures. The diversity of species is therefore low. The big disadvantage of such monocultures is that pests can reproduce very well. However, there are few beneficial insects because they mainly reproduce in hedges and on flowering plants. We refer to many of them as “weeds”. Monocultures, therefore, need more poisons that are sprayed onto the fields. Monocultures are therefore unsuitable for organic cultivation.
But there is another way: In a mixed culture, different types of plants grow side by side. This is useful if you leave the mix to chance. But skillful farmers or gardeners mix in a targeted manner. There are plants that drive away harmful insects with their smell. This also benefits the neighboring plants. Even harmful fungi do not grow equally well in every environment. Tall plants provide shade for others who particularly need it. This saves water, fertilizer, and, above all, sprays.
The term “monoculture” is also used in a figurative sense. Examples are cities where there is only one branch of industry, for example, the shipbuilding, or textile industry. You can also call a company a monoculture if only men and no women work there.