Agroecology Knowledge Hub

Synergies: building synergies enhances key functions across food systems, supporting production and multiple ecosystem services

Agroecology pays careful attention to the design of diversified systems that selectively combine annual and perennial crops, livestock and aquatic animals, trees, soils, water and other components on farms and agricultural landscapes to enhance synergies in the context of an increasingly changing climate.

Building synergies in food systems delivers multiple benefits. By optimizing biological synergies, agroecological practices enhance ecological functions, leading to greater resource-use efficiency and resilience. For example, globally, biological nitrogen fixation by pulses in intercropping systems or rotations generates close to USD 10 million savings in nitrogen fertilizers every year, while contributing to soil health, climate change mitigation and adaptation. Furthermore, about 15 percent of the nitrogen applied to crops comes from livestock manure, highlighting synergies resulting from crop–livestock integration. In Asia, integrated rice systems combine rice cultivation with the generation of other products such as fish, ducks and trees. By maximising synergies, integrated rice systems significantly improve yield, dietary diversity, weed control, soil structure and fertility, as well as providing biodiversity habitat and pest control.

At the landscape level, synchronization of productive activities in time and space is necessary to enhance synergies. Soil erosion control using Calliandra hedgerows is common in integrated agroecological systems in the East African Highlands. In this example, the management practice of periodic pruning reduces tree competition with crops grown between hedgerows and at the same time provides feed for animals, creating synergies between the different components. Pastoralism and extensive livestock grazing systems manage complex interactions between people, multi-species herds and variable environmental conditions, building resilience and contributing to ecosystem services such as seed dispersal, habitat preservation and soil fertility.

While agroecological approaches strive to maximise synergies, trade-offs also occur in natural and human systems. For example, the allocation of resource use or access rights often involve trade-offs. To promote synergies within the wider food system, and best manage trade-offs, agroecology emphasizes the importance of partnerships, cooperation and responsible governance, involving different actors at multiple scales.


The YALTA initiatives developed a handbook on agroecology to further support its implementation among the youths and other actors in agroecology. This handbook is a consolidation of information from different sources on agroecology and basic production practices. It aims at imparting knowledge to the agriprenuers, especially the youths but can also...
Within the framework of the second meeting of the TAPE (Tool for the Evaluation of the Performance of Agroecology) workshops that took place in the southern zone of the green belt of the city of Córdoba, Evangelina Argüello from the Institute of Plant Physiology and Genetic Resources tells about the...
For many years, La Vía Campesina and GRAIN have been telling the world about how the agroindustrial food system causes half of all greenhouse gas emissions. But the world's governments are refusing to face these problems head on, and the Paris Summit in December is approaching without any effective commitment...
The High Level Panel of Experts for Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) is the science-policy interface of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). In October 2014, the CFS requested the HLPE to prepare a study on Sustainable forestry for food security and nutrition. The present document is the response...
The Senate in the Philippines has approved a bill recognizing Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) and amending the current legal framework for organic agriculture in the country. PGS are locally focused quality assurance systems of organic products certification which small farmers can afford, and which provides access to healthy and safe...
« Previous 1 2 3 4 5 ... 129