The September issue of CSA news has a nice (open access) article entitled: “Do polycultures have a role in modern agriculture?”
Some key caveats:
* While diverse plant mixtures have been associated with many benefits, high biomass yield (i.e. what farmers get paid for) is usually not one of them.
* It’s very difficult to maintain complex plant mixtures – usually a single species will come to dominate.
* Our crop monocultures represent those crops that are best adapted to a given region.
* Establishing, maintaing and harvesting polycultures will require significant effort, risk, investments and training for farmers.
They conclude that polycultures are intriguing but definitely require more (agronomically realistic) research.