A smart combination of different crops, such as beans and maize, can significantly cut the use of crop protection agents and at the same time reduce the need for fertilizers.
In order to meet the food demand of nine billion people in 2050 and at the same time reduce our impact on the environment, such as the use of crop protection agents and developments leading to deforestation or desertification, we can no longer rely on synthetic pesticides and fertilizers alone. 'We need to conduct much more research to better understand how to utilize the potential provided by natural ecological processes,' said Professor Anten.
He points to recent research data showing that mixed crops require 20-40% less land to obtain the same total yields as mono-crops. There are several reasons for this. Different plant varieties make use of different growing times and different nutrients in the soil. They can also facilitate each other, for example by providing shade or making the soil more acidic, so that more phosphate is released. Also striking is the fact that mixed cultures are on average 40% less affected by diseases on average than single crops. In China there are even examples of a 90% reduction in diseases caused by fungi, leading to increased overall production.