important functions of perennials in an agriculture system

Important function of Perennials in an Agriculture System

Why do so many farms prefer to grow annual vegetables in their early stages of establishment? Usually, this is because annual vegetables are a commercial product, that has quick economic returns and there’s already a niche market available in a different market.

However, sometimes this can be a trap that includes only seasonal labor, and huge expenses for refrigerated trucks or greenhouses, instead of having a successful farming. That’s why perennial and native plant crops should be considered in any thoughtful farm design process.

Some of the important roles of perennials plants in farming are:

-Native and perennial species are more resilient to climate change, diseases, and seasonal changes.

-Improve yields inversely proportional to their carrying on over time.

-Some products are less represented in the market and can attract a new and fresh public or market. 

-Supply the soil with nutrients, shade, nitrogen fixation, and erosion control.

-Provide homes for pollinators and wildlife.

At Wild Bird Farm, we consider farming an art, like a canvas that you can cover with many colors and shapes. You just have to be creative and use plants in different ways. Instead of concrete or metal, you could consider creating natural barriers with shrubs.

Additionally, you can plant species that help fix nitrogen in the soil, such as Silverberry (Elaeagnus umbellata) in a row cropping system with other fruits like Apples or Grapes. This will help with the biodiversity of the farm, minimize labor in the long run, and add a lot of nutrients to the landscape.

silverberry important native plant for agriculture systems
Silverberry (E. umbellata)
Photo: North Carolina Gardener Plant Tooldbox.

In conclusion, it is necessary to start transforming the traditional practices of agriculture and begin to integrate more native and perennial species. It is no secret that a tremendous amount of effort is required to make a successful farm, but the benefits can greatly improve the quality of any farming system.

Author: Krystal Zuniga

Published: 10/12/2022

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