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Recycling: more recycling means agricultural production with lower economic and environmental costs

Waste is a human concept – it does not exist in natural ecosystems. By imitating natural ecosystems, agroecological practices support biological processes that drive the recycling of nutrients, biomass and water within production systems, thereby increasing resource-use efficiency and minimizing waste and pollution.

Recycling can take place at both farm-scale and within landscapes, through diversification and building of synergies between different components and activities. For example, agroforestry systems that include deep rooting trees can capture nutrients lost beyond the roots of annual crops. Crop–livestock systems promote recycling of organic materials by using manure for composting or directly as fertilizer, and crop residues and by-products as livestock feed. Nutrient cycling accounts for 51 percent of the economic value of all non-provisioning ecosystem services, and integrating livestock plays a large role in this. Similarly, in rice–fish systems, aquatic animals help to fertilize the rice crop and reduce pests, reducing the need for external fertilizer or pesticide inputs.

Recycling delivers multiple benefits by closing cycles and reducing waste that translates into lower dependency on external resources, increasing the autonomy of producers and reducing their vulnerability to market and climate shocks. Recycling organic materials and by-products offers great potential for agroecological innovations.

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
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
Organic fertilizers improve soil fertility in oil palm plantations, based on small-scale (<30 ha), short-term (3–5 yr) studies, but the response is not equal across soil classes. Since organic fertilizers are costly to handle and apply, relative to mineral fertilizers, producers need to know where and how frequently to apply organic...
Indonesia
Journal article
2013