Agroecology Knowledge Hub

Efficiency : innovative agroecological practices produce more using less external resources

Increased resource-use efficiency is an emergent property of agroecological systems that carefully plan and manage diversity to create synergies between different system components. For example, a key efficiency challenge is that less than 50 percent of nitrogen fertilizer added globally to cropland is converted into harvested products and the rest is lost to the environment causing major environmental problems.

Agroecological systems improve the use of natural resources, especially those that are abundant and free, such as solar radiation, atmospheric carbon and nitrogen. By enhancing biological processes and recycling biomass, nutrients and water, producers are able to use fewer external resources, reducing costs and the negative environmental impacts of their use. Ultimately, reducing dependency on external resources empowers producers by increasing their autonomy and resilience to natural or economic shocks.

One way to measure the efficiency of integrated systems is by using Land Equivalent Ratios (LER). LER compares the yields from growing two or more components (e.g. crops, trees, animals) together with yields from growing the same components in monocultures. Integrated agroecological systems frequently demonstrate higher LERs.

Agroecology thus promotes agricultural systems with the necessary biological, socio-economic and institutional diversity and alignment in time and space to support greater efficiency.

Database

This technical guide provides details of numerous techniques specific for tropical wet zones. It describes the core principles of agroecology, distilling local knoweldge accumulated by family farming. This guide is designed as a support tool for technicians and farmers involved in actions to promote and develop agroecology and consists of two...
Guidelines
2017
In an inspiring and emotive talk, Diego González reflects on the current agricultural practices, how those impact on food losses and how to save local, smallholder farmers from the preassures arising from big food distributors.
Chile
Video
2017
In this video Nepalese farmers explain how they learned, after an FAO training course, to use bio-pesticides instead of the chemical ones.
Nepal
Video
2016
El Marco de Evaluación de Sistemas de Manejo de Recursos Naturales Incorporando Indicadores de Sustentabilidad (MESMIS) se utilizó para evaluar comparativamente la sustentabilidad de dos unidades de producción de cacao en el municipio de Comalcalco, Tabasco durante 2006. El método de estudio de casos se empleó mediante la combinación de...
Mexico
Journal article
2009
The aim of the study is to assess the food security, adapting/mitigation opportunities to climate change and policy situation and draw policy recommendations. The study was conducted in some selected districts of Tigray Region, Ethiopia based on some exemplary interventions such as communities, ISD, BPA and PROLINNOVA-Ethiopia. Agriculture in tropical...
Ethiopia
Working paper
2012