Agroecology – The Science behind Ecological Farming

Page - February 8, 2010
Agroecology is the science of integrating agricultural production in its global, regional and local ecological, cultural and social context. It is also an emerging and spreading concept of marrying local, traditional and indigenous knowledge with formal science.

How it Works

Based upon the ingenuity and traditional local knowledge of generations of farmers, agroecological systems usually use complex systems of synergy between plants, microbes and animals. They entail adapted concepts of crop-rotation and interdependencies of plants for pest control, as well as recycling and integrated use of different organic materials for shelter, clothing, energy and other purposes.

Key Advantages of Agroecology:

  • Higher quantitative and qualitative yields in small-scale farming systems, resulting in improved health, wellbeing and income
  • Addressed advantages and disadvantages of a given ecosystem
  • Reduced emission of greenhouse gases and fossil fuel dependency
  • Reduced use of toxic substances
  • Improved soil fertility
  • Improved and integrated natural resource management and biodiversity
  • Improved resilience to extreme weather conditions and overall climate adaptation potential
  • Increased competence, innovation and cooperation of small and poor farmers
  • Improved livelihood opportunities for rural poor, including landless labor
  • Improved understanding and innovation of the scientific community of complex agro-ecological interactions and agricultural multi-functionality
  • Conservation and use of traditional, indigenous and local knowledge and value systems and respect for regional and community based social, cultural and spiritual identity

Moving Forward

Agroecological farming methods are as productive as conventional as industrial farming methods.  However, since most agroecological solutions are highly site specific, little investment has been made so far in systematically taking stock of this knowledge and making it available to other farmers. Greenpeace is calling for increased funding, education and promotion of agroecological farming methods worldwide.