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.

Database

This article review peer-reviewed literature related to human and social values in agroecology. It identified a growing social science literature on agroecology and related social theory and organized and summarized the review around the following themes: social well-being, livelihoods, meaningful work, and gender and social equity.
United States of America
Article
2022
Capital Growth, a food growing network, presents people with the opportunity to grow food as part of a healthy, resilient food system. During the pandemic in 2019/2020, Capital Growth worked with over 50 gardens to grow food for the local community through their Community Harvest Initiative. This video tells their stories...
Video
2021
This video depicts the last session of the second day of the regional consultation on ‘’Engaging with Academia and Research Institutions (ARIs) to support Family Farmers and Food System Transformation during and post COVID-19 Pandemic in Asia’’ held on  8 and 9 December 2021.  The video presents topics relating to how misleading information can...
Video
2021
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...
Video
2021
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...
Brazil
Innovation
2021