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.


This article written by Wendel Georges highlights the water pollution and waste caused by industrial and agricultural activities. The author determines that the wastewater issue is a major environmental problem that irrationally contaminates ecosystems, drastically affects biodiversity (fauna and flora) including human beings. He transforms these negative effects into alternative proposals to address...
Acting as a facilitator to enable debates and foster collaboration among a variety of actors in order to advance science, knowledge, public policies, programmes and experiences, FAO organized the International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition in September 2014 in Rome, Italy. The Symposium was followed by three...
Conference report
48 million people live in Colombia nowadays. During the last 60 years of internal conflict, the country urbanized. According to the World Bank stats, less than 24% of the Colombian population lives in rural areas. About the 30 largest cities concentrate more than 70% of the population. The competition for land,...
Case study
Agroecology is a farming approach that is inspired by natural ecosystems, combines local and scientific knowledge, and focuses on the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment. Given the outsize contributions of conventional agriculture to climate change and biodiversity loss, there is a growing recognition that the global food...
The first newsletter of the project “The European Agroecology Living Lab and Research Infrastructure Network: Preparation phase'' (All-Ready).