Agroecology Knowledge Hub

Recycling: more recycling means agricultural production with lower economic and environmental costs

Waste is a human concept – it does not exist in natural ecosystems. By imitating natural ecosystems, agroecological practices support biological processes that drive the recycling of nutrients, biomass and water within production systems, thereby increasing resource-use efficiency and minimizing waste and pollution.

Recycling can take place at both farm-scale and within landscapes, through diversification and building of synergies between different components and activities. For example, agroforestry systems that include deep rooting trees can capture nutrients lost beyond the roots of annual crops. Crop–livestock systems promote recycling of organic materials by using manure for composting or directly as fertilizer, and crop residues and by-products as livestock feed. Nutrient cycling accounts for 51 percent of the economic value of all non-provisioning ecosystem services, and integrating livestock plays a large role in this. Similarly, in rice–fish systems, aquatic animals help to fertilize the rice crop and reduce pests, reducing the need for external fertilizer or pesticide inputs.

Recycling delivers multiple benefits by closing cycles and reducing waste that translates into lower dependency on external resources, increasing the autonomy of producers and reducing their vulnerability to market and climate shocks. Recycling organic materials and by-products offers great potential for agroecological innovations.


This study presents the conditions to be met for the recovery of food sovereignty in Africa and recommends that to rediscover the integrated approach to agriculture and food systems, there is a need to build resilience and support the strategies of the various actors.
Large, decimated ecosystems can be restored. Bringing large areas back from environmental ruin is possible, and the results are key to stabilizing the earth's climate, eradicating poverty and making sustainable agriculture a reality. Under the guidance of a few people who have knowledge and vision, local uneducated rural poor can...
The climate crisis and destructive farming practices are challenging African farmers’ ability to produce enough healthy food. The seasonal rains on which farmers depend now fail to materialise or fall in heavy storms that wash away soils and seeds. This book published by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) brings...
Kenya - Senegal - Togo - Uganda - United Republic of Tanzania - Zimbabwe
Biowatch advocates for agroecology as a proven, multi-faceted approach to creating a sustainable, diverse, just food system that applies ecological principles and methods to farming, while addressing wider environmental, economic, social, cultural, and political dimensions in order to transform the industrialised food system.
South Africa
Pollinators are essential for fruit, vegetable, oilseed, and forage production, as well as for the production of seed for many root and fibre crops. In addition to being essential to food security and quality, pollinators contribute to the production of medicines, biofuels (e.g. canola and palm oil), fibres (e.g. cotton...
Policy brief/paper