Mixed-culture agriculture = high-performance agriculture + biodiversity
Mixed-culture agriculture is an agriculture trimmed for maximum performance. Its yield will be as close as possible to the current yield of conventional and organic farming, but at the same time it will preserve the animal and plant species on our fields.
This will be achieved through the use of innovative, highly specialised harvesting robots, which will be available in the medium term and enable the efficiency of mixed-culture agriculture.
1.) Preservation of the animal and plant species that were already present in our fields before the industrialisation of agriculture. They should find a wide habitat on our agricultural land again. The aim is to create an ark for the re-spreading of the species which also serves as a research laboratory.
Every extinct species is a loss. A recolonisation of arable land can only take place if vital species populations are maintained in the ark and - if the conditions on the arable land are suitable - can spread again quickly. The ark should not be operated as an island in a landscape that is impoverished with species all around, but as an open system to promote the ecological functionality of the surrounding area.
2.) Model 2050
On specially leased land, a model of future mixed-culture agriculture is being built, as it could be from the start of this revolutionary type of agriculture (planned for 2050). The technical possibilities and machines that are currently still lacking will be replaced by manual processing involving "organic gardeners".
Proof of concept: This project makes it possible to show the value and effectiveness of mixed-culture agriculture. The Ark is not a museum, but a pioneer in the preparation of mixed-culture agriculture - a "research laboratory". In order to give a concrete insight into what is to be researched in the Ark, here are some exemplary questions to be answered:
- Which crops must be grown next to which crops to ensure maximum yield?
- What is the optimal distance between the different crops?
- What is the optimal spatial arrangement of the crops?
- Which arable herbs and insects must be grown next to the crops to minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides?
- How much and which crop residues must be left after harvesting to provide a habitat for insects and all other animal species?
- What is the optimal method of irrigation?
- How is it possible and how important is it to plough?
- What requirements result for the robots that are to harvest in the future by taking the above points into account?
3.) The ark as a pedagogically valuable instrument
All theory is grey... if you show people in practice how it can be done, the possibility of broad acceptance arises. Especially with "gardeners" the population can be won over for the concerns of nature and species protection.
4.) The results developed in the Ark about the optimal structure of the cultivated area as well as the skills necessary for harvesting will drive the development of state-of-the-art harvesting robots in a mutual development process.
The optimisation of traditional agricultural cultivation has led to an increase and standardisation of arable land. The reason for this lies in the technology of cultivation. Monocultures are made possible by the use of herbicides and pesticides; large agricultural equipment allows cost-effective cultivation with low personnel costs.
However, agriculture is currently in an intensive phase of development. Pioneer in this development so far is organic farming. The driving force behind this is the recognition that agricultural land has an enormous potential to provide habitat for many species. The use of herbicides is being viewed more and more critically by the population - keyword glyphosate. Regardless of whether herbicides have a negative impact on humans and animals, it is undisputed that they exclude plants (arable herbs) from arable land and thus counteract biodiversity. However, these herbs would also provide a basis of life for insects and herbivores. These in turn are the basis for the entire food pyramid that is built upon them; including the antagonists to the so-called pests, which pose a threat to crops, especially in monocultures. The use of pesticides is probably responsible for the endangerment of countless insect species.
In organic farming, this issue is handled more carefully, but this does not mean that the problem of species extinction does not occur there.
At the same time the development in technology is remarkable. Many things that we would have thought impossible a few years ago have become possible through the use of intelligent technology. For example, in recent years the ever larger lawn mowers have been replaced by small mowing robots - with excellent success throughout. The grass becomes more even, the amount of work is minimized, and a reduction in fertilization is achieved by mulch mowing. And these are still very simple devices. The technical possibilities already go much further. The recognition and differentiation of useful plants and weeds, the possibility of exact location, spatially accurate irrigation, etc. are building blocks that can be called up for the development of agricultural equipment (https://www.mdr.de/wissen/faszination-technik/elektroschock-roboter-unkraut-100.html).
Thus, for the first time today, there is a real chance to develop a modern mixed-culture agriculture with special consideration of species protection and the increase of structural diversity for the benefit of animals, plants and man himself. It should be noted that mixed-culture agriculture will be designed for maximum performance, while at the same time preserving animal and plant species.
In order to support this development efficiently and steer it in the right direction, it is necessary to define the development goals from an ecological and technical point of view, to prove their benefits and to communicate the findings to a broad public.