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 cultivation of diverse farmers’ varieties/landraces, which tend to be well-adapted and suited to local production systems, confers increased resilience for crop production. Farmers’ varieties/landraces are also potential sources of traits for crop improvement, especially for developing varieties tolerant to biotic and abiotic stresses and for incorporating farmer-preferred traits. Unfortunately,...
Agroecology Newsletter of June 2022
Moeda is an ecosystem of financial services and technology that seeks to create positive social impact and that provides, among other services, an integrated financing model for sustainable social development, focusing on the unbanked population. Since its foundation, the company has used blockchain technology with a focus on people who need...
Agroecological practices have been widely promoted as an alternative to the hegemonic agri-food system, yet they also can help to ‘green’ the system. To strengthen a transformative agroecology, Latin American activists have promoted the concept desenvolvimento territorial rural (DTR or rural territorial development), which has different versions. The dominant version...
Journal article
CARI is launching a dynamic Desertif’actions 2022 initiative with activities to build and carry out advocacy throughout the year. Desertif’actions 2022 aims to put agroecology at the top of the agenda in the fight against desertification and land degradation, by sharing and pooling the results of actions carried out by...