A Comparison of Modern and Indigenous Agricultural Systems: Monoculture Versus Polyculture

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dc.contributor.author Stein, Michael
dc.date.accessioned 2011-04-15T19:14:45Z
dc.date.available 2011-04-15T19:14:45Z
dc.date.issued 2011-04-15T19:14:45Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2092/1548
dc.description Mentor: Dr. Nanci Ross en_US
dc.description.abstract Although monoculture cornfield is the standard method of farming for modern agriculture, polyculture was a dominant system for indigenous cultures in the New World. These systems were discussed widely in the personal writings of missionaries and settlers, who marveled at the agricultural productivity of the native people. The Three Sisters method, consisting of a close grouping of corn (Zea mays), beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), and squash (Cucurbita sp.), was one of the most common polyculture methods throughout North America. The method is admired, as it produces a complete diet, and the mutualistic relationships between the plants encourage higher yields. The purpose of this experiment was to test for a difference in crop productivity and yield between a corn monoculture and the Three Sisters setup. In this greenhouse study, pots were planted with only corn and were treated at the beginning of the growing season with synthetic fertilizer representing modern monoculture. This treatment was compared with pots planted with corn, pole beans, and butternut squash, a variation of the Three Sisters. To test productivity, the sizes and flowering times of the corn were measured. The yield and weights of all fruits produced by the plants was also collected. The monoculture treatment showed trends of faster development in height and flowering times. However, the Three Sisters method has the possibility to deliver higher combined yields and produce more total food. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Drake University, College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Biology en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.relation.ispartofseries DUCURS 2011;35
dc.subject Agricultural systems en_US
dc.subject Corn--Productivity en_US
dc.subject Beans--Productivity en_US
dc.subject Squash--Productivity en_US
dc.title A Comparison of Modern and Indigenous Agricultural Systems: Monoculture Versus Polyculture en_US
dc.type Presentation en_US

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  • DUCURS [196]
    Poster sessions and presentation from the Drake University Conference on Undergraduate Research in the Sciences held each April at Olmsted Center on the Drake campus.

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