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 report shares the findings of the Agroecology Policy Research Initiative, which examines the state of agroecology policy in Canada by gathering insights from those involved in policy, research, and practice related to agriculture and food. This includes government staff, parliamentarians, lobbyists, farmers, food systems researchers, and NGO policy advocates....
The foundation of any agroecological food system is a secure land title, especially for farmers and pastoralists displaced from ancestral lands and vulnerable to land grabs. This session discussed land rights and access to land for agroecological producers. It explored indigenous and peasant experiences, especially from the perspective of youth interested...
Climate change is challenging the sustainability of agricultural systems. Using the 10 elements of Agroecology as a framework, this working paper explores the extent to which Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Research Program (CCAFS) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is aligned with agroecological principles. The main...
Case study
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