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.


Agroecology Fund (AEF) launched a new video, “Agroecology: Grassroots Solutions to Global Crises”, a 7-minute short film featuring grantee partners, advisors, allies, and donors from the global AEF community.  Filmmaker and photojournalist Rucha Chitnis is in conversation with Rutendo Zendah from the African Centre for Biodiversity in South Africa, Pius Ranee...
This fact sheet presents a family agroecosystem, located in the community of Enjeitado in the Sertão do Pajeù in Brazil – the most populous semi-arid region in the world. Sabià Agroecological Development Center Initiative is a family agroecosystem focused on the recovery of soil fertility in the Caatinga area. The agroecosystem...
FAO recently partnered with the organization IN SITU to measure the impact of agroecology through the Tool for Agroecology Performance Evaluation (TAPE) in 60 farms surrounding Rosario City in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina. This video presents the results of the implementation of TAPE designed in 60 establishments in the Rosario metropolitan area of Argentina and...
Experts, including farmers, scientists, groups involved in value chains and representatives from governments, international organizations and development agencies from mountain systems in every arable continent joined forces at the International Conference on Ecological Organic Agriculture in Mountain Ecosystems in Thimphu, Bhutan March 5th to 8th, 2014 to develop an action...
Agriculture is of undeniable importance in the Kingdom of Morocco. Its economic and social weight, its affiliation to the rural world, as well as the diversity of its functions in food, socio-economic and environmental aspects, make it a natural locomotive of development and economic growth. Aware of the country's remarkable...