Home > Agroecology Knowledge Hub > Knowledge > 10 elements > Efficiency
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.


Crop row spacing in intercropping systems affects interactions of crop species and subsequent crop yields. In a field experiment, the response of crop yield to different maize row spacing (0-80 cm) in pea/maize intercropping system was investigated. The results showed that land equivalent ratio (LER) of each treatment exceeded 1,...
Journal article
Video presentación del 8 de setiembre del 2013 en el Curso Internacional Agroecología, Resiliencia y Seguridad Alimentaria. Evento previo al IV Congreso Latinoamericano de Agroecología SOCLA 2013.
There is a great need for agriculture in China to enter an eco-transformation stage characterized by high efficiency, output safety, resource saving and environmentally friendly. In order to push forward the development of eco-agriculture, the principles for setting up policy and regulation framework in China are proposed here based on...
Journal article
Este libro muestra cómo diferentes actores del sistema cubano de innovación formal e informal responden al desafío que presenta la crisis del sistema alimentario mundial. Desde una visión concertada, presenta los resultados del proyecto ""Desarrollo de sistemas descentralizados y participativos de garantías ambientales en Cuba"". El texto propone un acercamiento al...
A technical package for eco-agriculture is the assembly of multiple techniques for a functional and goal-oriented agro-ecosystem management. The resources can originate from traditional agro-practices, modern agro-practices and high-tech innovations. There are inseparable, compatible, or incompatible relationships between a single technique and a specific agro-ecosystem. Also, there are mutually dependent,...
Journal article