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.


The Green Revolution, the symbol of agricultural intensification not only failed to ensure safe and abundant food production for all people, but it was launched under the assumptions that abundant water and cheap energy to fuel modern agriculture would always be available and that climate would be stable and not...
Working paper
FAN was born out of the need to regularly inform a wide range of stakeholders about aquaculture development, especially in developing countries, to disseminate news about the many and diverse FAO field projects, and to inform about FAO global activities developed at headquarters. This issue is being published ahead of an important intergovernmental event, the 10th Session of the COFI SCA, to...
COVID-19 has exposed vulnerabilities within the current food system. Adopt agroecology practices as a strategic approach, can help to build a resilient and sustainable food system. in this animated video, it explains the 10 elements of the Agroecology, as a piece of clear evidence, of alternatives that can contribute towards building...
Everyday Experts explains how knowledge built up through first-hand experience can help solve the crisis in the food system. It brings together fifty-seven activists, farmers, practitioners, researchers and community organisers from around the world in 28 original chapters to take a critical look at attempts to improve the dialogue between...
Agroecology Newsletter of November 2022