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.


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...
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"Do you care about sustainable farming, the environment, and agroecology? Do you belive that youth are part of the solution and can lead an agricultural revolution that is much needed in the Mekong region? Feeling creative? Find a story, do your research, gather your team, grab your camera, and get...
Cambodia - China - Lao People's Democratic Republic - Myanmar - Thailand
From the 1st of September until the 1st of October, 2017, the agroecological transition will be highlighted through more than 40 events organized with the collaboration of numerous partners. Agroecological produciton aims at preserving natural resources and avoiding the use of agrochemicals. Agroecology is about the reconciliation of economic viability, environmental...