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Monoculture means literally a single shared integrated pattern. It has several meaning is specific fields (which follow below).



In agriculture, the term monoculture is a term used to describe plantings of a single species. A major force in the increase of monoculture in modern agriculture has been the development of machinery for tilling, planting, pest control and harvesting, which is cheaper than human labor, and is considered more efficient at larger scales. Some uses of the term are considered pejorative.

Examples of monocultures include lawns and most field crops, such as wheat or corn. The term is nonspecific, so things such as large-scale confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) might be included.

The drawbacks and risks of excessive use of a single species are acknowledged and well understood in agriculture and agricultural science. Cropping systems such as crop rotation and especially pastures address some of these drawbacks.

Extensive monoculture of fruits, cucurbits, alfalfa seed and other crops tends to produce pollination problems, because pollinators cannot use all the resources available during bloom, and they may starve during the rest of the season. Such pollination problems are solved by pollination management.

Some native areas, such as climax forests, show remarkably little species biodiversity. These areas are the exception rather than the rule, however.

Monocultures are derided by the environmental movement both because of their susceptibility to disease and insects, and because of the large amount of chemical inputs often required to sustain them. The movement seeks to change popular culture by redefining the "perfect lawn" to be something other than a turf monoculture, and seeks agricultural policy that provides greater encouragement for more diverse cropping systems. Local food systems may also encourage growing multiple species and a wide variety of crops at the same time and same place.

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In sociology, a monoculture is any sort of system wherein everyone is wearing, doing, seeing, reading, watching, and thinking the same thing.

See also

Computer science

In computer science, a monoculture is any computer system which is nearly universally used. This concept is significant when discussing computer security and viruses. In particular, Dan Geer has advocated that Microsoft is a monoculture, since a striking majority of the overall number of computers connected to the Internet are workstations and servers running versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system, many of which are vulnerable to same attacks. This is in contrast to the early days of the net, when there was a much more even distribution of operating systems and hardware/processor types, and it was concomitantly much more difficult to create a broadly applicable attack.

Last updated: 02-10-2005 14:17:55
Last updated: 02-26-2005 13:09:46