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Agroecology

What is agroecology?

Conserve Capital

Conserve Capital

Agroecology is:

The application of ecology to the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems.

A whole-systems approach to agriculture and food

systems development based on traditional knowledge, alternative agriculture, and local food system experiences.

Linking ecology, culture, economics, and society to sustain agricultural production, healthy environments, and viable food and farming communities.

• Keep bank debt to a minimum.

 

Principles & Practices

• Reduce expenditures.

 

Manage Ecological Relationships

 

Use Renewable Resources

Use renewable sources of energy instead of non-renewable sources.

Use naturally-occurring materials instead of synthetic, manufactured inputs.

Use biological nitrogen fixation.

Reestablish ecological relationships that can occur naturally on the farm instead of reducing and simplifying them.

Manage pests, diseases, and weeds instead of “controlling” them.

• Use intercropping and cover cropping

 

• Use on-farm resources as much as possible.

• Integrate animals

 

• Recycle on-farm nutrients.

• Enhance beneficial biota:

 
 

• In soils.

 

Minimize Toxics

• Mycorrhizae.

 

Reduce or eliminate the use of materials that have

• Rhizobia.

 

the potential to harm the environment or the health of farmers, farm workers, or consumers.

 

• Free-living nitrogen fixers.

 

• Beneficial insects:

 

Use farming practices that reduce or eliminate

Provide refugia for beneficials.

 

environmental pollution with nitrates, toxic gases, or other materials generated by burning or overloading agroecosystems with nutrients.

Enhance benefial populations by breed and release programs.

Recycle Nutrients

 

Conserve Resources:

Shift from throughflow nutrient management to

 

recycling of nutrients.

 

Conserve Soil

Return crop residues and manures to soils.

 

• Sustain soil nutrient and organic matter stocks.

• Minimize erosion.

When outside inputs are necessary, sustain their benefits by recycling them.

• Use perennials

• Use no-till or reduced tillage methods.

Minimize Disturbance

 

• Mulch.

• Use reduced tillage or no-till methods.

 

• Use mulches.

 

Conserve Water

• Use perennials.

• Dry farm.

• Use efficient irrigation systems.

Adjust to Local Environments

 

Conserve Energy

Match cropping patterns to the productive potential and physical limitations of the farm landscape.

• Use energy efficient technologies.

Adapt Biota.

 

• Conserve genetic resources:

• Save seed.

Growing

 
• Save seed. Growing  

• Maintain local landraces.

• Use heirloom varieties.

Resilience

   

Building a socially- just, ecologically sustainable food

Building a socially - just , ecologically sustainable food
   
    Building a socially - just , ecologically sustainable food      
    Building a socially - just , ecologically sustainable food      
 
    Building a socially - just , ecologically sustainable food      
system in Somerset
system in Somerset

system in Somerset

system in Somerset
system in Somerset

Agroecology

Adapt plants and animals to the ecological

• Adapt plants and animals to the ecological

conditions of the farm rather than modifying the farm to meet the needs of the crops and animals.

Diversify:

Landscapes

• Maintain undisturbed areas as buffer zones.

• Use contour and strip tillage.

• Maintain riparian buffer zones.

• Use rotational grazing.

• Landscapes

 

• Households

Biota

• Farms

 

• Intercrop.

• Communities

 

• Rotate crops.

• Bioregions

 

• Use polyculture.

• Nations

 

• Integrate animals in system.

Minimize impacts on neighboring ecosystems.

 

• Use multiple species of crops and animals on

farm.

Maximize Long-Term Benefits

 

Use multiple varieties and landraces of crops and animals on farm.

Maximize intergenerational benefits, not just

annual profits.

 

Economics

Maximize livelihoods and quality of life in rural areas.

 

• Avoid dependence on single crops/products.

• Facilitate generational transfers.

 

• Use alternative markets.

• Use long-term strategies.

 

• Organic markets.

• Develop plans that can be adjusted and

 

• Community Supported Agriculture

• Pick your own” marketing.

• Add value to agricultural products.

reevaluated through time. • Incorporate long-term sustainability into overall agroecosystem design and management.

 

• Process foods before selling them.

• Build soil fertility over the long-term.

 

• Find alternative incomes.

• Build soil organic matter.

 

• Agrotourism.

• Avoid dependence on external subsidies.

Value Health

 

Use multiple crops to diversify seasonal timing of production over the year.

• Human Health

• Cultural Health

 

• Environmental Health

 

Empower People

• Value most highly the overall health of

 

Ensure that local people control their development process.

agroecosystems rather than the outcome of a

particular crop system or season.

 

Promote multi-directional transfer of knowledge, as opposed to “top-down” knowledge transfer.

Teach experts and farmers to share knowledge, not “impose” it.

• Engage in people-centric development.

Use indigenous knowledge.

Eliminate environmental pollution by toxics and surplus nutrients.

• Animal Health

 

• Plant Health

 

Resources

 

• Increase farmer participation.

www.agroecology.org

 

• Link farmers with consumers.

Agroecology, Ecological Processes in Sustainable Agriculture, Stephen R. Gleissman

Strengthen communities

Agroecology, The Science of Sustainable

 

Encourage local partnerships between people and

Agriculture, Miguel A. Altieri

 

development groups.

Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

 

• Ensure intergenerational fairness.

Journal

 

• Guarantee agricultural labor.

• www.foodtank.com

 

• Ensure equitable labor relations for farm workers.

• Market Garden Britain Awards

 

• Teach principles of agroecology & sustainability.

Manage Whole Systems

Growing

 
• Teach principles of agroecology & sustainability. Manage Whole Systems Growing  

Use planning processes that recognize the different scales of agroecosystems:

Resilience

   

Building a socially- just, ecologically sustainable food

Building a socially - just , ecologically sustainable food
   
    Building a socially - just , ecologically sustainable food      
    Building a socially - just , ecologically sustainable food      
 
    Building a socially - just , ecologically sustainable food      
system in Somerset
system in Somerset

system in Somerset

system in Somerset
system in Somerset