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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

Lecture: "Sustainable Farming through Agroecology" by Stephen Gliessman with Mark Bittman
Video
2015
Agroecology has been gaining interest in recent years among governments, research and civil society organisations worldwide and many actors present it as a strategic pathway to transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems for achieving food security and nutrition. Following the 1st International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition,...
Report
2018
Agricultural policymakers are addressing the sustainable development issue by designing new agricultural systems. Farmers are ultimately asked to make deep changes at field scale. Designing cropping systems has previously been done using prototyping methodologies. Prototyping methodologies use a five-step designing process at field scale and request multicriteria analysis of the...
Guadeloupe
Journal article
2012
Burkina Faso ranks as the sixth poorest country in the world according to the 2015 UN Human Development Report. Recent studies estimate that 46.4% of the population in the Eastern Region lives below the poverty line. These people are caught in a vicious cycle of degrading natural resources, declining soil...
Burkina Faso
Case study
2016
Agroecology has been gaining interest in recent years among governments, research and civil society organisations worldwide and many actors present it as a strategic pathway to transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems for achieving food security and nutrition. Following the 1st International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition,...
Report
2018