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University of Toronto Scarborough
Environmental Science
Roberta Fulthorpe

Reading 8 Wolfe Crop strength through diversity y In conventional farming single varieties of crop plants are grown alone But mixing varieties may be a better option several rice strains planted together on a large scale are more resistant to a major fungal disease y The main disease of rice rice blast most significant disease of rice caused by fungus spreads more slowly in mixtures of rice varieties than in monocultures experiments by Zhu et al in their large scale experiments in China y Monocultures was practiced only at species level until about 100 years ago rice wheat maize becoming dominant in different climatic regionsy Monoculture is convenient easy to plant harvest market and identify etc It has expanded to different levels reducing the number of species varieties within species and genetic differences within varieties y Problem with monoculture spread of diseases by pathogens y Solution either breed resistant varieties or develop new fungicides but only at a considerable cost to the farmer consumer and environment y A different approach reverse the tide of monoculture by growing several pathogen resistant varieties as a mixture within a field The presence of several varieties provides a physical barrier to the spread of fungal spores There is also an immunization process where if a pathogen is unable to infect a plant it leads to the activation of the plants disease resistant mechanism y Using different mixtures of varieties in different fields in different years could slow down ad
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