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 rural Sidama are mostly subsistence agropastoralists. Increasing climate change impacts have stimulated the farmers to adapt their farming practices to survive and thrive in this semi-arid environment. One of the pioneers of the community is Arbe, who grows maize, sugar cane, beans, enset, peppers, guavas, and banana on her 0,5...
Being the kernel of the traditional agriculture of China, and one of the major practices in developing ecological agriculture, intercropping still occupies an important position in modern agriculture in China as well as other parts of the world. One of the advantages of intercropping are higher yields relative to monocultures,...
Journal article
"Life in Syntropy" is the new short film from Agenda Gotsch made specially to be presented at COP21 - Paris. This film put together some of the most remarkable experiences in Syntropic Agriculture, with brand new images and interviews.
Este número recoge una variedad diversa de autores/as y entidades que trabajan en ganadería extensiva, dando espacio a artículos que analizan tanto los obstáculos como las oportunidades del sector. Entre ellos, destacan: el pastoreo racional y sus servicios ecosistémicos (de la Universidad de Extremadura), la diferenciación de los productos de...
This document describes the main results that emerged from the application of the Tool for Agroecology Performance Evaluation (TAPE) developed by FAO on the IFAD-funded Regeneration of Landscapes and Livelihoods (ROLL) project in Lesotho. TAPE provided a baseline for analyzing and comparing the performance of different types of agricultural systems across multiple dimensions of...